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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training

CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is a benefit of F-1 student status that allows you to gain professional experience in your field of study before you graduate, through an internship, co-op, or other employment.

Specifically, Curricular Practical Training is:

  • only for employment that is directly related to your major field of study.
  • dependent on your enrollment in a qualifying course, as shown below.
  • only available after you have completed at least one academic year as a full-time student.
  • only available before you complete all required coursework, except in some cases for thesis/dissertation students.
  • authorized for a specific employer.
  • authorized for one semester at a time, but can be repeated.
  • necessary even for unpaid internships, if the volunteer position is related to your major.

CPT is authorized directly by ISSS in consultation with the academic departments and (where necessary) the Office of Career Services, and the Cooperative Education office in the School of Engineering.


At the University of Dayton, all students who wish to engage in Curricular Practical Training must enroll in a course which demonstrates the employment is directly part of their academic program.

There are four ways that students at UD can meet this requirement.  Each path below has different requirements for full-time/part-time work, enrollment in coursework at UD, and job location.

International students may qualify for CPT through enrolling in:

  1. Internship Course (EXP 101 or similar)
  2. Co-operative Education (COP 501 or similar)
  3. Academic credit (whether required or optional), such as a Practicum, Internship, or Clinical course for credit in your department
  4. Thesis/Dissertation: Graduate students engaged only in thesis/dissertation research may participate in CPT only if the work is integral to the completion of the thesis or dissertation. Certification from thesis advisor is required.

With input from your academic advisor, the Career Services office, and ISSS, decide which option above best fits your situation. Remember, in all cases, the employment must be directly related to your major field of study.

Job Start/End Dates

Because CPT has a curricular component and our curriculum is semester based, the majority of your job must occur within the semester. We recognize that employers will want students to start before or finish after the semester. Consult with an ISSS advisor if you need to start before or finish after the semester.


  1. Review the CPT Guide and visit ISSS during daily advising hours with any additional questions.
  2. Receive an offer that contains all of the required information listed in Part 5 of the guide.
  3. Complete the CPT Quiz with a score of 100%.
  4. Submit your offer letter and CPT request through the ISSS request form.
  5. ISSS will forward your request to your advisor to confirm the work is related to your field of study and whether or not you will be earning academic credit.
  6. If not earning academic credit, ISSS will also submit your offer letter to Career Services or the Co-Operative Education (School of Engineering) office to enroll in an EXP or COP course.
  7. If you are approved, the ISSS office will update your SEVIS record and issue an I-20 with the CPT authorization.

CPT and Unpaid Internships

There is a difference between volunteering and engaging in an unpaid internship. Volunteering is donating time without compensation to an organization whose primary purpose is charitable in nature. Paid or unpaid internships, however, are offered by businesses and related to the intern’s field of study. The following six criteria must be met for an internship to be considered a legitimate unpaid internship:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation on the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship

CPT authorization is recommended for unpaid internships regardless of whether the student needs to demonstrate work authorization. CPT authorization is more than just permission to get paid. CPT authorization:

  • Reports the student's activity, employment, and location to the government.
  • Demonstrates that this practical experience is part of the curriculum.
  • Formalizes unpaid internships that someone would be hired and paid for.
  • Facilitates changes from unpaid to paid internships in the event your employer later decides to pay you. Please keep in mind that F-1 students cannot be retroactively remunerated or in any way compensated for work done in an unpaid internship if they did not obtain work authorization prior to when the work was performed.

If the position is unpaid and it is not possible to obtain CPT authorization, make sure that your prospective employer is aware of U.S. Department of Labor regulations concerning unpaid internships and that you have assurances (preferably written) to that effect before you accept the position. ISSS also recommend that at the end of your internship you request a letter from your employer confirming that there was no compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What effect does my CPT have on OPT?
The time you spend on CPT will not be deducted from the twelve months of allowable OPT unless you use 12 months or more of full-time CPT.
What is considered part-time?
Employment for 20 hours or less per week while you are enrolled for classes is considered part-time CPT. The employment authorization page of your I-20 will specify permission to engage in part-time training and you must limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in part-time CPT cumulatively, but you must be simultaneously enrolled as a full-time student in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.
What is considered full-time?
20 hours or more of employment per week is considered full-time CPT, regardless of whether you are enrolled full-time or part-time for classes. The employment authorization page on your I-20 will specify permission to participate in full-time training. If you use twelve months or more of full-time CPT you will not be eligible for OPT.
Do I need to have a job offer before I submit my application?
Yes. Your CPT authorization will be employer and date specific.
How can I show my employer that I am authorized to work?
Your I-20 with CPT authorization is evidence of your work authorization.


International Student and Scholar Services

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