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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is paid or unpaid training that must be an integral part of an established curriculum in the student's course of study and is:

  • Required of all students in that program of study, or
  • Required for a particular course and/or curricular track or approved elective, or
  • Offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.

CPT is training that must be undertaken before F-1 student completes all the requirements for his/her degree. It may be part-time or full-time. Students requesting CPT (externship of practicum) must be enrolled in full-time course work (unless it is during their "vacation" quarter). Students must register for their CPT course in the regular PSU registration period prior to the beginning of the quarter. CPT requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. You should speak to your department chair to confirm you are eligible before accepting any employment or placement offers.

Student are limited to 20 hours of employment per week when school is in session per university policy. Exception is graduate students in their quarter if you are registered for a reduced course load of classes that are required for the completion of your academic program.

The use of full-time CPT for one year or more eliminates eligibility for OPT. The use of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT. (Anything over 20 hours of work per week is considered full-time.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: F-1 students are required to pursue a full course of study and be making normal progress in achieving his or her educational objectives as specified on the I-20 to maintain status. Taking on additional, unrequired coursework, employment, or research that delays progress is a violation of F-1 status.

Types of CPT

There are two types of CPT: required and not required. Required CPT is when the academic program mandates practical work experience in order to graduate. Not required or optional CPT is when the practical work experience is for elective credit, but directly related to your field of study.

To be eligible for CPT, you must:

  • Have maintained full-time student status for at least one academic year (three quarters).
    EXCEPTION: Graduate students whose degree program requires more immediate participation in an externship;
  • Be in lawful F-1 status;
  • Be in good standing both academically and financially;
  • Have a job offer; and
  • Not be enrolled in an intensive English Language Training program.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT

Part-time CPT: Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. You must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.

Full-time CPT: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time. Please be aware that 12 months or more of full-time CPT will invalidate your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). During the academic year, you must be simultaneously enrolled full-time in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.

Dates of Employment:

The start and end date of employment cannot exceed the beginning and end dates of each quarter you are applying for CPT. Student must be careful not to continue employment beyond the date authorized on your SEVIS I-20. (A new I-20 authorizing the work be issued by PSU).

Download the Instruction for CPT Application for more information and follow the instruction inside.