What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)? Eligibility, How to Apply & Benefits


Cyril Zachariah
Updated on Jun 23, 2023 04:09 PM IST

Curricular Practical Training or CPT is a program that allows international students in the United States to gain practical work experience directly related to their field of study. This article will provide aspirants with an overview of CPT, eligibility criteria, application process, and the benefits it offers to students.

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)? Eligibility, How to Apply & Benefits

What is Curricular Practical Training: Curricular Practical Training, or CPT, provides international students studying in the United States with an excellent chance to get actual job experience in their chosen disciplines. CPT, as an integral part of the American educational system, enables students to apply their academic information in real-world contexts, so improving their comprehension and skill set.

CPT eligibility is determined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Students must be in excellent academic standing and have completed at least one academic year at a US university. Furthermore, their job must be directly connected to their primary field of study.

CPT has various advantages. For starters, it provides students with vital skills and industry expertise by supplementing classroom learning with practical experience. It also gives an opportunity to network, make professional contacts, and gain exposure to the employment market in the United States. Furthermore, because CPT allows students to identify themselves within their chosen industry, it has the potential to lead to post-graduation career prospects.

Want to Know About Other Study-Work Options in the US?

CPT Rules and Regulations

Here are the rules pertaining to curricular practical training (CPT):

  • The training should be directly related to the students' area of study.

  • The training will be an integral part of the established curriculum of the school.

  • The students designated school official (DSO) may authorise CPT during their first semester if the graduate program requires this type of experience.

  • The DSO will provide the student with a new form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status'', that makes it official that the DSO has approved the student for this employment.

  • CPT occurs before the student's end date of the program, as mentioned on Form I-20.

  • The authorisation is for one employer and only for a specific period of time.

  • The student must have an opportunity at hand before CPT can be authorised.

  • CPT is authorised before the student begins work.

  • A student is allowed to have more than one CPT authorisation at the same time.

  • One year of full-time CPT shall eliminate a student's eligibility for OPT.

  • Part-time CPT for a year will let a student do OPT.

  • CPT authorisation is only required when the job is in the United States and not in the student's home country.

Eligibility Criteria to Receive CPT

The following are the minimum requirements to receive CPT in the United States:

  • Must be on an active F-1 Visa.

  • Must be enrolled in a full-time program for at least a full academic year. An exception is applicable to those in graduate studies requiring earlier training.

  • Must have a job offer before applying for CPT.

  • Must not study English as a second language.

  • The job role offered must be directly related to the field of study.

  • Must have secured a job at training position. The job must provide training and practical learning experience for further studies.

  • Must have a recommendation from the academic advisor before applying for CPT.

  • CPT is an academic training programme, so students must earn at least one hour of credit for work experience.

Types of CPT

Two specific types of CPT are available for international students wishing to gain professional experience during their studies. In the US, students can opt for a CPT in both full-time and part-time format. The only difference between full-time CPT and part-time CPT is the duration of the programme.

  • Full-Time CPT: The duration of full-time CPT is more than 20 hours per week. During fall and winter terms, students must be enrolled full-time or get an approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).

  • Part-Time CPT: The duration of part-time CPT is less than or equal to 20 hours per week. Simultaneously, the student must be enrolled in classes full-time and be present on campus in order to maintain their F-1 status during fall and winter terms.

How to Apply for CPT?

All international students aspiring to gain additional practical or work experience alongside their studies will be required to complete the application process for a CPT in the US. To apply for CPT, one must have a job offer from an employer in the United States (US). After receiving the offer letter for a job or training, interested candidates must follow the steps given below:

Step Action
1 The student must request CPT using the established procedure of the school
2 The DSO reviews the student's request and determines their eligibility.
3 The DSO authorises CPT in SEVIS for a certain employer, prints and signs Form I-20 with authorisation for CPT.
4 The student begins work after the start date of CPT.

Step 1: Request CPT Using the Established Procedure of the School

For this, follow the steps mentioned below, although it may vary from one school to another:

  • Take the CPT Online Certification Course and print CPT Online Workshop Completion Email.

  • Speak with the employer and obtain a Detailed Training Description.

  • Meet with the DSO to discuss the description of training.

  • Gather all required documentation and submit CPT I-20 Request at the university either online or offline (as asked by the university).

Step 2: The DSO Reviews the Student's Request

If the DSO believes that the training is integral to the program and they find the student eligible, the DSO will approve the CPT.

Step 3: The DSO Authorises CPT in SEVIS

The DSO will create a CPT I-20 showing their approval. Normal processing time for the same is 1 to 2 weeks. Once the CPT I-20 is ready, the student will get an e-mail, until which no work, paid or unpaid, must take place. The CPT I-20 will include the CPT authorisation and contain the name of the employer along with the dates of the training. The new I-20 permit is mandatory for international students to begin working with an employer. Also, it should be noted that the I-20 is not transferable to another employer, nor will the students be allowed to work beyond the date mentioned in the new I-20.

Step 4: Begin Work

The student must make sure to sign and date their CPT I-20 and keep it permanently in their personal files. They are now ready to start their CPT employment.

Documents Needed to Apply for CPT

As mentioned above, international students are required to submit a list of documents along with the CPT application form. Here is the list of documents needed to apply for CPT:

  • CPT Authorisation Request Form

  • Academic Advisor recommendation form for CPT

  • A detailed description of training from the employer. It should be written on the company's letterhead, be addressed to the student, include the job title, provide the job description in detail, specify the street address of employment, specify the number of work hours, and specify the start and end dates of CPT employment.

  • Photocopy of current I-20

  • Photocopy of Form I-94

  • Unofficial transcript of CPT course enrollment

Extension of CPT Authorisation

The US government allows the CPT authorization to be cancelled, shortened or extended. In all these cases, students will have to contact the International Student Advisor.

In case the employment is extended beyond the dates mentioned in the I- 20, the respective student must request an extension of the CPT, at least one week before the date of expiration. Students interested in extending their CPT duration are required to follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Fill in the new online document request.

  • Submit the new CPT agreement form. It must also be signed by the academic advisor.

  • Enrol in the new CPT course for the new semester (as requested).

  • The processing for the CPT extension will take another five business days.

Benefits of CPT

There are several benefits to applying for a CPT in the US. Here are some of the benefits of a CPT for international students in the United States:

  • Earn Money: CPT allows students to work on a part-time or full-time basis off-campus with an employer while studying. The opportunity to work while studying, without it affecting one's studies, allows students to gain additional income during their stay abroad. The wages paid in CPT are usually levelled with wages paid to US citizens in any other role. While training opportunities could also be unpaid, CPT employment does add value to the program and enhances their learning experience.
  • Work Experience: CPT employment also provides students with the knowledge and skills to work in a professional environment before they start working in the industry of their dreams. It further gives them an opportunity to gain practical experience while being enrolled in an academic programme.
  • Maintaining F-1 Visa Status: CPT authorisation is a way of reporting the SEVIS of the student's activity, location and employment and therefore maintaining their F-1 status.
  • Better Career Prospects Post-Graduation: With skills and experiences gathered on CPT, students are more likely to be offered jobs at reputed US organisations. A CPT employment gives a recruiter the assurance that the student has the required skills and hands-on experience needed for the job.
  • Networking: CPT employment will give the student an edge in establishing business connections even when they are enrolled in a program. This will further help them in establishing their field, enhancing their resume and establish a list of references for the future.

Curricular Practical Training is a necessary aspect of an international student's study abroad experience. Depending on the course they choose, applying for a CPT if they have an internship offer (paid or unpaid) may be necessary. Therefore, be connected with your academic advisor for any advice and suggestions that can help you choose the right CPT programme and also make the right decisions regarding your higher education studies in the US.

Finally, we can state that Curricular Practical Training is an important chance for foreign students to obtain hands-on job experience connected to their studies in the United States. Students may reap the benefits of CPT by knowing the qualifying requirements and following the application procedure. This includes improved skills, industry contacts, and prospective career opportunities. CPT allows students to bridge the gap between theory and practice, broadening their educational experience and preparing them for future employment success in their chosen sectors.

You can clear out your doubts and questions regarding international education and admissions by reaching out to us at abroad@collegedekho.com.

Need Further Information About CPT?

While we prefer students to take sytructured guidance for each and every aspect of tehir study abroad pursuance, however, there is no pressure. We have a range of combinationa dn individualistic services as well and you amy easily Connect With Us to apply for any of the help and guidance matter in case of study abroad.


What is the benefit of Curricular Practical Training?

Curricular Practical Training offers international students the chance to get real-world job experience that is pertinent to their subject of study. This practical experience improves their abilities, expertise, and industry understanding. Furthermore, CPT offers a chance to develop professional networks, contact potential employers, and raise the probability of finding a job after graduation. Overall, CPT helps students prepare for successful careers in their chosen industries by bridging the gap between classroom learning and real-world application.

How much can I earn during CPT as an international student?

Earnings for international students during Curricular Practical Training vary depending on factors such as industry, region, and specific company rules. While the US government has not established a particular limit, it is important to emphasise that CPT is designed to give practical training rather than function as a source of revenue. Students should contact their designated school official (DSO) and follow any earnings rules or limitations imposed by their institution during CPT.

Can I get a job after finishing CPT?

Yes, you can get a job after finishing Curricular Practical Training (CPT). In reality, CPT can serve as a springboard to post-graduate work prospects. International students acquire the necessary job experience, broaden their professional network, and build skills that make them more appealing to future employers through CPT. Creating relationships and displaying their talents through CPT might boost their chances of getting a job offer or perhaps moving on to full-time work with the same organisation or in a related industry.

What is the duration of CPT in the USA?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) in the United States differs based on the programme and academic institution. CPT can be used for part-time (up to 20 hours per week) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week) work. CPT might last anywhere from a few months to a year, but it must correspond to the academic calendar and is directly relevant to the student's primary subject of study. Speaking with your institution's designated school official (DSO) for precise details about CPT duration is critical.

Who is eligible for a CPT visa?

If international students studying in the United States on an F-1 visa satisfy specific conditions, they may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Eligibility conditions include completing at least one academic year at a US university, maintaining excellent academic standing, and finding work closely connected to their primary subject of study. 

What is the difference between CPT and OPT visa?

The main difference between Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) is when they are available. CPT allows foreign students to get practical job experience within their academic programme, whilst OPT allows students to work after they finish their studies. CPT needs authorisation from the designated school official (DSO) and is usually done while enrolled, whereas OPT requires an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and can be done either during or after the programme of study is completed.

You can share this post!

Related Articles

Aug 18, 2023 04:28 PM IST

How to Apply for Masters in USA?

Aug 03, 2023 01:18 PM IST

Documents Required for TOEFL

Our Study Abroad Offerings

Related Institutes

Planning to study abroad?

Interested in Studying Overseas?

Connect with us and kickstart your learning journey for a rewarding experience!

By proceeding ahead you expressly agree to the CollegeDekhoAbroad Terms of Use & Privacy Policy.