Curricular Practical Training
What is CPT? Some call it CO-OP, others call it Internship.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines Curricular Practical Training (CPT) as training that must be "an integral part of an established curriculum." The employment must be directly related to a student's current major field of study. If the work is not a required or an elective component of a student's degree program, the student must apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Am I eligible?
CPT can only be used during a student's program of study. A student must be in legal F-1 status in order to be eligible to apply. In addition, a student must also have been lawfully enrolled full-time for one full academic year. Graduate students in programs that require immediate participation in CPT may have the academic year requirement waived.
Students are not limited (in theory) to the amount of CPT they may use. However, students who engage in 12 months or more of full-time CPT are not eligible for ANY OPT.
Full-time CPT is defined as more than 20 hours per week, while part-time CPT is defined as 20 hours or less per week. Students engaging in part-time CPT must be enrolled full-time.
In order to apply, students must have an offer of employment from an employer offering work that qualifies as CPT. Permission to work is granted by the Immigration Specialist. Students may engage in CPT only for the specific employer, location and period approved by International Education. Each CPT period is granted based on the official TTU academic semester calendar published by the Registrar.
Four Qualifying CPT Categories
- Degree Requirement
The practical experience is required of all students in the degree program and the major field of study. If a particular major or curricular track requires CPT, the student may qualify.
- Regular Course Requirement
The work experience is part of the regular requirement for a course in which a student will be receiving credit. The course requirement must be stated in the TTU catalogue. Independent study courses DO NOT normally qualify.
- Established Academic Internship
The work experience is part of a placement made by one of TTU's CO-OP offices or is a placement made by an academic department into one of their established internship programs. Note : This internship opportunity must be available to all students in the department/college. It CANNOT be created for one particular student.
- Gathering Essential Data
The work experience is required in order to gather essential data that is crucial to the successful completion of the thesis/dissertation.
Note: The authorized CPT period should reflect only the amount of time necessary to gather the essential data. CPT in this category will NOT be granted during a student's last semester.
IMPORTANT RULE about applying for CPT
Please note that students who have already completed all of the coursework required for their degree and are working on their thesis are not eligible for CPT. Instead, they should apply for Optional (Thesis) Practical Training. If a CO-OP is in your program of study, you may opt to do CPT at the end of your program; this is the only exception.
Steps to Follow
You must attend a CPT seminar or make an appointment to obtain the necessary information and documents. There are several steps involved in obtaining the permission to engage in CPT.
- Obtain an employment letter from the employer. The letter should be on letterhead and should clearly state:
- the job title (e.g. intern, trainee)
- the job description
- the location of the job (i.e. city, state)
- the exact starting and ending dates
- the number of hours per week
- salary agreements
- (If any detail is missing, International Education will not be able to grant CPT.)
- Come to the IE office and get the CPT form or open the link below. Please complete the CPT form and have it signed by your academic advisor, department chair and dean of your major. Then return the form to the IE office.
- Submit every original I-20 you have obtained from every school you have attended as an F-1 student to the Immigration Specialist.
- Submit a copy of your I-94 (front & back).
Quick Check List
- Letter from Employer.
- Academic Advisor's Letter.
- All I-20s (originals only).
- Copy of I-94 (front & back).
- Complete Sexual Harassment Assessment with the Career Services.
Please turn in the materials to IE as a package.
The process takes two weeks to complete once you submit everything to IE, so PLAN ACCORDINGLY (same-day permission is not possible).
REMEMBER: You CANNOT begin employment until you have been granted work permission for CPT on your I-20 by the Immigration Specialist of International Education!
- It is important that this letter also indicate that the intended job responsibilities are commensurate with that student's academic level. We cannot, for example, authorize employment for a graduate student when the stated job responsibilities indicate that it is more appropriate for a student at the undergraduate level.
- A hard copy of the employment letter should be sent directly to the TTU Office of International Education. Please feel free to send a preliminary e-mail or fax copy of the letter to expedite processing of the employment authorization.
- You may want to provide your employer with a letter explaining the requirements for Curricular Practical Training authorization and details that must be included in the letter.
You must obtain written authorization from the International Education Office before you begin work. This form must be signed by your academic advisor, department chairperson, and the dean of the school/college.
After CPT authorization is granted, a new I-20 with the CPT authorization will be issued. THE CPT AUTHORIZATION ON THE NEW I-20 FORM WILL INCLUDE THE EMPLOYER'S NAME, ADDRESS, WHETHER THE CPT IS FULL OR PART-TIME AND THE START AND END DATES OF THE EMPLOYMENT.
YOU MAY NOT BEGIN WORK UNTIL THE I-20 FOR CPT HAS BEEN ISSUED!
Note: All international students on CPT must maintain the required health insurance coverage.