Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

F-1 curricular practical training is a type of work authorization which enables international students in F1 status to engage in off-campus employment that is an integral part of an established curriculum and related to their major, such as an internship, practicum or fieldwork experience. The practical training experience must be undertaken and completed prior to the completion of your degree. 

In practical terms, 'integral part of an established curriculum' means an opportunity must be required by the curriculum or, if not required, the student must receive credit for the training. Legacy federal immigration guidance interpreting the 1991 CPT regulation also stated that "Non-credit internships or practicum which are required for graduation [are] recognized as curricular practical training."

Types of CPT

There are three kinds of CPT:

  1. Authorization for an internship, practicum, or fieldwork experience that fulfills a mandatory degree requirement for all students in the student’s degree program. Registration for credit will depend on the academic program’s guidelines for fulfilling the internship or practicum requirements.

  2. Authorization for an internship, practicum, or fieldwork experience that provides elective internship credit. Registration in an internship, practicum, or fieldwork course is required, including for summer term. Registration in independent study credits or for course credits not intended for experiential learning is not acceptable for CPT.

  3. Authorization for work experience needed for completion of a required master’s thesis / final project or doctoral dissertation. A detailed letter from an academic or faculty advisor is required. The letter should explain how the work experience is related to the thesis / dissertation research or project. The work experience must be connected to the thesis / dissertation research and not just academically related.

CPT cannot be authorized on any basis except for one of the three categories listed above. Students who do not qualify for CPT may speak to an international student advisor about pre-completion OPT work authorization as an alternative option.

CPT Eligibility

In order to qualify for CPT work authorization, a student must:

  • Have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis in F-1 status for one academic year (3 terms), including F-1 transfer students from another institution. 
    • Exceptions to the one academic year F1 status requirement:
      • Graduate students whose programs require immediate curricular training for all students in the program.–

      • Students who, during their course of study, were enrolled in a study abroad program, provided the student had spent at least one full academic term enrolled in a full course of study in the US prior to studying abroad.

      • Students who have satisfied the "one full academic year" requirement under another nonimmigrant status, provided he or she was lawfully enrolled as a full-time student at an SEVP-approved school in another nonimmigrant status that does not prohibit full-time study.

  • Secure an academically appropriate internship offer which is directly related to the student's major field of study and an integral part of an established curriculum. In practical terms, 'integral part of an established curriculum' means an opportunity must be required by the degree or, if not required, the student must receive credit for the training. 
    • Positions must be appropriate to the student's level of study and major field of study. Retail sales, food service, and other unskilled positions will be denied.
    • If the hiring employer is a recruitment agency, ISSS will need to see on the job offer letter that the internship is for a specific company for the entire training period. The name of the recruitment agency will show up on the CPT work authorization as the "employer" but a remark will be added that the actual training takes place with the specific company, as specified on the job offer letter.
  • Obtain CPT authorization from ISSS before beginning employment. Work authorization cannot be back-dated.
  • Register required credit/s, if applicable.

Part-time vs. Full-time During the Academic Year (not including summer term)

Part-time CPT work authorization cannot exceed 20 hours per week during the academic year while school is in session. The 20 hours per week total includes any on-campus employment. Exceptions to this part-time policy can be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Full-time CPT is allowed under the following conditions:

  • during school breaks,
  • during annual summer vacation term,
  • during a graduate student's thesis or dissertation period (once all coursework has been completed)
  • if a graduate program requires full-time internship/practicum as a part of the core curriculum

Summer Term Opportunities

For summer internships and employment, the credit-bearing requirement for CPT work authorization still applies, with few exceptions. This is because the UO requires students to complete the activity in the term the student enrolls for credit.


  • Summer credit may or may not be required for students in graduate programs that require an internship experience as a core requirement for all students in the program. 
  • Summer credit is not required for students whose CPT work authorization is needed for completion of a required master’s thesis / final project or doctoral dissertation, provided the academic or faculty advisor provides a letter verifying that the summer employment is related to the thesis / dissertation research or project.

Paid vs. Unpaid 

SEVP guidance states that "compensation is not a consideration when determining whether an opportunity qualifies as CPT," but federal and state labor and wage/hour laws do still apply.

CPT work authorization is required for all paid employment opportunities. It is strongly recommended that you obtain CPT work authorization even for unpaid opportunities, if the opportunity does not meet the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) test for unpaid internships versus employment. If you choose to pursue an unpaid internship without CPT work authorization, please make sure that the company is aware of the FLSA regulations concerning unpaid internships and that you have written assurances to that effect before you accept the position. We also recommend that you ask your employer to provide you with a letter confirming that there was no remuneration or any other type of compensation provided in any form during your participation. Please keep this letter for your permanent records.

If, in the future, you are applying for benefits or an adjustment of status and the U.S. government determines your unpaid internship met the definition of "employment," but you did not have CPT work authorization, you may need to work with an immigration attorney to avoid any negative consequences. 

Number of Credits

The number of credits for which students must register is determined in consultation with the academic or faculty advisor, based on the student's academic program and credit needs. F1 immigration regulations do not provide guidance on how many credits are required based on the number of hours worked per week. The minimum number of credits a student must register is one each term, regardless of whether the internship or practical training opportunity is part time or full time. Again, exceptions to registering credit only applies to graduate students in programs that have internships as a core requirement.

Starting and Extending CPT

F-1 students should request CPT work authorization BEFORE beginning an internship or other type of employment; otherwise the employment may be considered unauthorized. CPT work authorization is employer-specific and authorized for specific start and end dates. If an extension of the CPT work authorization is needed, it is the student's responsibility to request an extension before the CPT end date.

Effect of CPT on OPT Eligibility

Students who engage in one year (12 months) of full-time CPT are not eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT). However, part-time CPT (or full-time CPT of less than 12 months) has no impact on OPT eligibility.

Application Process for CPT

Login to with your DuckID and password and submit the CPT I-20 Request e-form under the F-1 Practical Training menu. You will be required to upload a copy of an internship or job offer letter and you will be asked to provide the email address of an academic or faculty advisor who can verify the type of CPT you are requesting.

An ISSS advisor must update the student's SEVIS record for CPT authorization. Student cannot begin working until the CPT employment start date is recorded in SEVIS. The ISSS advisor will print out an updated I-20 reflecting the CPT authorization. The student will present the CPT I-20 to the employer, along with a valid passport and I-94 arrival record, for I-9 verification.

Types of Curricular Practical Training at UO

CPT TYPE Description Evidence of Curricular Basis for CPT Eligibility Credits required Full time permitted? documents needed
CORE REQUIREMENT FOR DEGREE Degree program requires internship or fieldwork experience. Current programs include: 
  • Industrial Internship Program
  • Sports Product Management
  • College of Education graduate programs
  • Electrochemistry Master's Internship Program
Internship included in degree requirements as described in program bulletin, catalog, or web site Student must be enrolled in the degree program Can be for credit or non-credit; depends on degree program requirement Depends on degree program's internship requirement CPT Request eform; job offer letter
ELECTIVE INTERNSHIP CREDITS Major department and the Career Center offers internship course as an elective (ex. 400 level UG credits, or 600 level GR credits) Course title and description indicates that the course is specifically for internship or practicum experience Internship should be relevant to student's major field of study Yes - must count toward overall degree requirements. Credits determined by academic advisor Case by case CPT Request eform; job offer letter
MASTER'S THESIS / FINAL PROJECT Internship is integral to completion of master's thesis (or equivalent, e.g., capstone) Letter from thesis advisor certifying that internship is integral to thesis Only for MA students with thesis requirement; must be at thesis stage Registration for MA thesis, capstone, or equivalent final project course Only after completion of all coursework requirements CPT Request eform; job offer letter; letter from MA Thesis Advisor
DOCTORAL DISSERTATION Internship is integral to completion of dissertation (dissertation research) Letter from dissertation advisor certifying that student has advanced to candidacy and explaining how the internship is integral to dissertation research For PhD students who have advanced to candidacy (at dissertation stage) Registration for dissertation credits per Graduate School policy Only after completion of all coursework requirements (advanced to candidacy) CPT Request eform; job offer letter; letter from dissertation advisor