Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 students is described below. If you are eligible and interested in pursuing authorization, read about CPT's application procedures.

CPT is temporary employment authorization that allows an F-1 student to gain practical experience via an internship, work off-campus, or cooperative program that is directly related to the student's program of study. CPT is linked to a specific course, is credit-bearing, and is limited to the specific employer and dates of employment listed on the CPT application.

You must receive authorization from the IO prior to the beginning requested date of employment. Once your CPT request has been approved, you will receive a new CPT I-20 reflecting your authorization to work. CPT is date- and employer-specific.

***If the IO becomes aware of a student working (paid, unpaid, internship, volunteer, co-op, etc.) without authorization, his/her SEVIS record will be terminated.  This means you you will need toleave the U.S. immediately, and must submit a new I-20/DS-2019 request, pay the SEVIS fee and apply for a new visa stamp before you may return.  Questions about work authorization?  Contact your IO advisor

Are you eligible?

In order to be eligible for CPT, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be in lawful full-time F-1 status for a full academic year.
  • Be in good academic standing with the university.
  • CPT must be an integral part of your program of study.
  • CPT must be related to a specific academic course, and you must be registered for this course when you apply for CPT.
  • Your academic advisor must sign the CPT application form.
  • You have provided a job offer letter that meets the criteria listed below (see Job Offer Letter).

An F-1 student may only apply for CPT based on one of the following categories:

  • Work is needed to fulfill course requirements.
  • Work is part of an established cooperative or clinical training program.
  • Work is necessary for the completion of the degree, thesis, or dissertation.
    (This category is most often used by graduate students who are registering for continuation courses.

Authorization period and time restrictions

Work authorization is given per quarter/semester. Additional quarters/semesters require a new application. You may use a job offer letter that covers more than one academic term, but you must still apply each term for CPT. In this case, the end date requested will be the end of the quarter/semester.  The IO will authorize CPT two weeks before OR after the quarter/semester dates. 

Part-time CPT at the master's level cannot be combined with another part time job, such as a teaching assistantship, because combined, they are considered full-time employment.

Long-term employment offers

You might receive a job offer that spans more than one quarter. This is allowed, provided that your program enables you to be registered for a CPT class for multiple terms. Keep in mind that if you have 12 months of full-time CPT, you will not be able to apply for OPT.

  • You may turn in an employment letter with the long term dates of your offered employment. The end date of CPT should be the end of the quarter/semester.
  • You will still need to turn in an Academic Advisor's Form for each quarter covered.
  • You may turn in all Academic Advisor's Forms in the first quarter, but you will need to coordinate with your international student advisor to have each period of CPT added in a timely manner.

How to apply

  • Obtain a job offer letter that meets the criteria listed below (Job Offer Letter)
  • Register for the related course.  You may need to contact your academic program, Engineering Career Development (ECD), Chicago Field Studies (CFS), or other office to be registered. 
  • Complete the CPT Academic Advisor's Recommendation Form. This must be signed by your academic advisor or dean.
  • Turn in the following documents to the IO during walk-in hours or by email to your IO Advisor:
    • Academic Advisor's Recommendation form
    • Job offer letter (see details below)
    • NOTE - the IO needs to keep a copy of the offer letter; please bring a copy, not the original.

If the application is approved by your international student advisor, the period of CPT will be entered into SEVIS and a new I-20 will be printed for you in 7 calendar days. If your application is not approved or is incomplete, you will be e-mailed by your international student advisor.

If needed, apply for a Social Security Number after picking up the I-20 at the International Office. You will need a letter from the International Office. You can obtain this after your CPT has been approved by completing our Document Request Form online.

Job offer letter

The letter should be typed on company letterhead and must contain the following information:

  • Dates of employment must match dates on Academic Advisor's Recommendation Form.
  • Number of hours per week; part-time is 20 hours or less and full-time is 21 hours or more.
  • Address where the employment will take place.

Please note: the IO needs to keep a copy of the offer letter; please bring a copy, not the original