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F-1 Curricular Practical Training

F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of authorization for off-campus experiential learning and academic activities that are directly related and integral to your major field of study. Examples of experiential learning include an internship, practicum, cooperative education, or fieldwork.

CPT experiences can be paid or unpaid but must be related to your major. It must be approved by an academic advisor or faculty member in your department and authorized by the International Center. CPT authorization must always be granted BEFORE starting or extending employment - the International Center cannot approve CPT for a start date that has already passed. Failure to obtain authorization before starting any CPT experience may be viewed as unauthorized employment, leading to a loss of F-1 status.

  • Read here for information about virtual internships, including internships taking place remotely while outside the US

Beware of Internship or Job Scams

All students should be aware of the possibility of job or internship scams. Scams may include getting offers from companies that seem but are in fact not real. Many job scams are designed to get you to pay a fee as a condition of getting the job or internship. If you have to pay a fee upfront, even if you are promised "reimbursement" at a later time, your internship is likely not legitimate. Read more about how to recognize job scams.

Eligibility Requirements for Curricular Practical Training

To qualify for CPT, you must be in valid F-1 student status. In addition:

  • You must have completed at least one academic year (two semesters) of full-time academic study in the US before you can start your CPT training experience
    • Time spent in non-academic (e.g., English language training programs) or primarily online or overseas programs does not count toward the academic year requirement
    • A Leave of Absence of 5 months or more will reset the two semesters qualifying period. For example, a student that completes two semesters of full-time study then takes a leave of absence, must (in most cases) complete an additional two semesters of full-time study before becoming eligible for CPT once again.
    • An exception to the one-year waiting period is available to graduate students who are in programs that require a first-year internship, practicum, fieldwork, or related activity
  • You must be in good academic standing and making normal academic progress toward your degree
  • You must have a training or job offer that provides you with an experiential learning opportunity directly related to your major

CPT is a pre-completion option for training experiences in your major. Once you have completed your degree requirements (i.e., you have no further academic work you need to complete), you are no longer eligible for CPT.

Types of CPT

CPT may be authorized for the following types of experiential learning:

  1. Training that is required for all students in your program (e.g., an internship or practicum requirement)
  2. Training that is not required, but available for students in your major (e.g., an internship elective) - registration for internship or practicum credit is required
  3. Training that is integral to the completion of a department-approved thesis, capstone, or dissertation topic (students must have completed all coursework requirements except for the thesis, capstone, or dissertation.  Fletcher students must engage in such internships during the regular academic semester, not during the extended period based on a Capstone extension.)

CPT-Related Issues and Questions

CPT Application Steps

School-Based CPT Policies