Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - USC Viterbi | Current Students (2023)

CPT is a type of work authorization for eligible F-1 international students to participate in paid off-campus internships before graduation. However, it should not prevent the student from making reasonable progress towards the degree. The Office of International Services (OIS) provides additional information on their website that all graduate students should also be aware of.

International students should review the following CPT information prior to applying for CPT.

Eligibility Requirements

Time at USC

Maintained full-time F-1 student status for at least one academic year (fall and spring).
If you attended undergraduate or Master's programs at a U.S. institution, you may be eligible for CPT earlier.
Please see a VASE advisor in OHE-106 and OIS CPT Websitefor more information.

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Graduate GPA

Minimum GPA requirement to apply for a CPT:
Fall/Spring CPT: 3.0 +
Summer CPT: 2.75+
NOTE: If a student meets all CPT criteria and has a GPA of 0.00, VASE will process if the student is meeting satisfactory academic progress and can meet with a VASE advisor if they have any questions.

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Progressive Degree Program (PDP)

Students are waived out of the Online Training requirement.

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PhD Student Considerations

PhD students who have applied or are planning to apply for a program extension will not be approved unless the CPT directly supports research or writing the dissertation. In this case, you MUST upload an explanation from your advisor along with your offer letter.

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Fulfilled Degree Requirements

Considerations

You may be eligible to take an internship with a 3/4 unit course enrollment in your final semester before your I-20 end date. Internships are not an acceptable reason for a Program Extension.

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Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - USC Viterbi | Current Students (3)

CPT Application Process

For CPT approval, the internship must be related to student’s major. The information given below must be included in the body of the letter. If any information is missing, the offer letter will be rejected by VASE. See thisSample CPT Letteras a guide – feel free to share this with your company if they have questions.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - USC Viterbi | Current Students (4)

Degree(Major)
First Internship

Future Internship

MS (CS/ECE)

ENGR 597 (0.5 units)

ENGR 598 (0 units)

MS (other)ENGR 596 (1 unit)

ENGR 596 or ENGR 597

MS (other)

ENGR 597 (0.5 units)

ENGR 596 or ENGR 598 (0 units)

PhD

ENGR 596 (1 unit)

ENGR 596

  • ALL ENGR classes will NOT be counted/applied into your degree units if you are in CS/DS and ECE departments. Thus, for international students in these two departments, the ENGR units cannot be taken to maintain your full-time status.
  • ENGR 596 (1 unit): This course requires full-time faculty member as your supervisor from the school for your internship. You will turn in your reports to the faculty supervisor.
  • ENGR 597 (0.5 unit): Master’s students in Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering should take ENGR 597 for yourfirst internship. You will concurrently gain practical work experience in an internship and participate in class to develop your communication skills.
    • Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering Master’s students must successfully complete the Professional Writing and Communication for Internships course.
    • ENGR 597 cannot be repeated.
  • ENGR 598 (0 unit): This is only available to Master’s and PhD students who have successfully completed ENGR 597 for 0.5 units.

ENGR 596 Locate a full-time faculty member in your major department who is willing to supervise you for ENGR 596. It is your responsibility to select a professor who is available to supervise the CPT.

ENGR 597 or ENGR 598 Complete the VASE Online CPT Request Form and upload your CPT offer letter. The offer letter from the company must be on the company’s letterhead – see Sample CPT Letter as a guide.

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    A VASE academic advisor will review your application and determine your academic eligibility. For questions regarding your academic eligibility, contact masters@vase.usc.edu or phd@vase.usc.edu.

    A Viterbi Career Connections advisor will review your offer letter and issue d-clearance for ENGR 596, ENGR 597, or ENGR 598 if approved. You will be notified via e-mail when your CPT request has been reviewed. For questions about your offer letter, internship, or course D-clearance, contact vcareers@usc.edu.

    Applications may take up to 4 business days for VASE to process.

    During peak application times, please note that the processing timeline to approve your application and generate your I-20 is:

    • VASE: up to 8-10 business days
    • OIS: up to 4 business days

    We appreciate your patience as we work through applications as quickly as possible.

    Once you obtain d-clearance, register for ENGR 596, ENGR 597 or ENGR 598 immediately. Your application cannot be completed until you have registered.

    OIS will review your CPT request online after receiving VASE approval and will notify you via e-mail when your I-20 is ready for pick-up. OIS processing time for CPT is 4 business days during non-peak times and 10business daysduring high-volume, peak registration. Please take note of theprocessing times and plan accordingly.

    For questions regarding your I-20 or immigration status, contact OIS atois@usc.edu.

    Additional Information

    CPTs cannot start before or end after the posted dates below.

    Summer 2022

    Fall 2022

    Spring 2022

    Application Start Date

    March 21, 2022

    July 21, 2022

    Nov 1, 2021

    Application Deadline

    First Deadline: June 3

    Final Deadline: June 9

    First Deadline: Sept 9

    Final Deadline: Oct 17

    First Deadline: Jan 28

    Final Deadline: March 14

    Internship duration: (If it is your final semester)

    May 16 - Aug 9

    Aug 22– Dec 14

    Jan 10 – May 13

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    Internship duration: (If it is NOT your final semester)

    May 16 - Aug 19

    Aug 22 – Jan 6

    Jan 10 – May 13

    Deadline to submit final report

    Check with
    Faculty Supervisor

    Check with
    Faculty Supervisor

    Check with
    Faculty Supervisor

    Some friendly reminders regarding your CPT…

    • International students must register for an internship course during the semester they wish to do an internship and obtain CPT.
    • Follow the internship course syllabus and contact the VASE Office or Viterbi Career Connections (VCC) for your questions regarding the internship course.
    • If you cannot continue the internship, please contact VASE Office as soon as possible.
    • Remove your application from any pending recruiting processes after you accept one offer.

    NOTE: As part of your agreement for CPT, you agree not to accept additional job offers after submitting a CPT application for the semester. Internship offers from new employers will not be approved.

    If you have received an additional internship offer after submitting for CPT, the VCC staff will do their best to assist you with negotiating and retaining both internships.

    We also encourage you to visit the Job & Internship Tool Kit for Evaluating & Negotiating Offers or schedule an appointment with a career advisor on Gateway for tips on negotiating a start date for next semester with the second employer.

    Successful completion of the course is required to be considered for future CPT authorizations. If a student receives a No Credit (NC), they will be ineligible for future CPT.

      Volunteer internships are unpaid internships that do not require a formal CPT to be filed. It is recommended that you review the Department of Labor's (DOL) Fact Sheet #71. This fact sheet provides general information to help determine whether interns and students working for “for-profit” employers are entitled to minimum wages and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

      If the volunteer internship does not satisfy DOL rules regarding volunteer work, then the work is "employment." In this case, an international student can engage in the internship only if he/she/they has proper work authorization. If the student engages in work that does not satisfy DOL rules regarding volunteer work, and does so without proper work authorization, the student is engaging in unauthorized employment and is out of status, even if the student receives no pay.

      If you are engaging in bona fide volunteer activity, we advise you to get documentation from the organization explaining the nature of your work. You should keep this with your other immigration records.

      If you would like to receive internship credit for a volunteer internship, please follow the steps outlined in the CPT Application Process.

      Hours and Location

      If it's your final semester, you can work full-time if your course enrollment is no more than 4 credits (not including CPT credit).10-20 hours per week is considered part-time and 21-40 per weekis considered full-time.

      • Full-time CPT (1 class and 1 internship class)
      • Part-time CPT

      If it'sNOT your final semester, you can only work part-time with full-time course enrollment

      • Full-time CPT
      • Part-time CPT (full-time class enrollment)

      **Students cannot take academic difficulty RCL with CPT simultaneously.

      Location:

      • Remote CPT is currently allowed due to COVID-19.
      • Ph.D. students must have passed the Qualifying Examination and be enrolled in Dissertation units in order to work outside the Los Angeles area during the Fall and Spring Semesters, or to be eligible for full-time CPT.
      • Ph.D. students cannot hold a 50% assistantship during the Fall or Spring semesters and be approved for CPT.

      *CPT authorization is intended to facilitate off-campus opportunities that resemble classroom instruction. A key characteristic of such an experience is a supervisory relationship, consisting of regular assignment and evaluation of deliverables. Practical Training also implies meaningful immersion in a professional environment.Students who request CPT for remote positions in Summer 2022should keep detailed documentation establishing:

      1. The existence of a supervisory relationship throughout their period of authorization, and
      2. How they achieved professional immersion despite working remotely.

      During summer semester, you can work on both part-time and full-time internships in the U.S.

      • Full Time CPT
      • Part Time CPT

      Location:

      • Within the U.S.
      • Remote CPTs are not typically allowed. However, exceptions for Summer 2021 have been made in light of impacts on business due to the COVID-19 pandemic.*
      • PhD students must have passed the Qualifying Examination and be enrolled in Dissertation units in order to work outside the Los Angeles area during the Fall and Spring Semesters,or to be eligible for full-time CPT.
      • PhD students cannot hold a 50% assistantship during the Fall or Spring semesters, and be approved for CPT unless eligible for full-time CPT.

      *CPT authorization is intended to facilitate off-campus opportunities that resemble classroom instruction. A key characteristic of such an experience is a supervisory relationship, consisting of regular assignment and evaluation of deliverables. Practical Training also implies meaningful immersion in a professional environment.Students who request CPT for remote positions in Summer 2022should keep detailed documentation establishing:

      1. The existence of a supervisory relationship throughout their period of authorization, and
      2. How they achieved professional immersion despite working remotely.

      To ensure a rewarding internship experience and earn academic credit for your internship course, internships must be:

      • At least 12 weeks during Fall and Spring, 10 weeks during Summer.
      • A minimum of 10 hours per week.

      Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, some employers have reduced the internship duration below the minimum number of weeks. Internships less than 10 - 12 weeks may be considered on a case-by-case basis for Summer 2022.

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      FAQs

      Can a student work full-time on CPT? ›

      You can work on CPT either full-time or part-time. CPT requires a signed cooperative agreement or a letter from your employer.

      Does working on campus count as CPT? ›

      students can work part-time on campus and part-time on CPT simultaneously only if the total combined hours worked does not exceed 20 hours per week. Example: A student that works 15 hours per week on campus is limited to 5 hours per week on CPT.

      What is CPT for international students? ›

      Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work authorization for employment (whether it is paid or unpaid), such as internship or co-op, for F-1 international students to receive further training. It is designed to achieve an established academic objective and is directly related to the student's degree level and major.

      What is curricular optional practical training CPT OPT? ›

      CPT is employer specific and must be done before you graduate. CPT is employment that is an integral part of your major curriculum and allows you to participate in an internship, practicum or cooperative education program.

      Can I work 40 hours a week on CPT? ›

      3. During break periods between quarters and during the summer break, you are eligible for full-time CPT (up to 40 hours/week). However, the combined total work hours of both on-campus work and CPT are not to exceed 40 hours per week.

      Can I apply for green card while on CPT? ›

      Both OPT and CPT are absolutely legal. You can apply for any number of Day 1 CPTs to maintain your status, which still doesn't have any effect on your green card processing. Green card or Permanent resident card lets you stay in USA with out the need for a non immigrant visa like H1B.

      Can I work 2 jobs on CPT? ›

      Participating in practical training without the necessary authorization could violate the student's status. Q: Can a student have more than one CPT authorization at the same time? A: Yes; however, a separate CPT authorization is needed for each employer and each CPT segment.

      How many hours can I work during CPT? ›

      If the student has an on-campus job, the on-campus job and CPT employment cannot exceed 20 hours per week. Law students can only work a maximum of 15 hours per week during the fall or spring semesters. Full-time CPT is for employment over 20 hours per week.

      Can I do CPT without a course? ›

      Requirements for Non-Required CPT

      You must be enrolled in a CPT course. Designated CPT course are set up and approved by the U-M Office of the Registrar. See the list of List of Required Internships and CPT Courses for Optional Internships.

      Can you get paid on CPT? ›

      Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

      And yes, you can get paid for CPT employment. Prior authorization by your school's International Student Office and notification to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is required.

      Does CPT need sponsorship? ›

      CPT is not a separate visa category and does not require “sponsorship” from an employer. However, the student must have a practical training offer from the employer before they can apply for CPT authorization.

      Do I need to pay for CPT? ›

      There is no cost to the student for the CPT application. However, if the student is enrolled in an internship class, Georgetown University may charge tuition for the course credit.

      Can I do both CPT and OPT? ›

      Can You Apply for CPT and OPT at the Same Time? Yes, you can. However, remember that if you work for 12 months on full-time CPT, you will not be able to apply for OPT. Part-time CPT will not affect your eligibility for OPT, even if you work for more than 12 months.

      Is OPT the same as internship? ›

      OPT is not employer specific and allows work, not an internship or co-op. CPT is part of your major that allows students to work in a paid or unpaid internship, practicum, or cooperative (co-op) education program. Students with OPT authorization can work with any employer across the USA.

      What is CPT and OPT for international students? ›

      CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training, while OPT stands for Optional Practical Training. International students who study in the US are allowed to do either CPT or OPT under their F-1 student visas to gain work experience.

      Can I work more than 8 hours a day on CPT? ›

      There is no legal limit on the number of hours you can work when authorized for full time CPT.

      How many times can you apply for CPT? ›

      CPT must be authorized before the student can begin work. Student can have more than one CPT authorization at the same time. One year of full-time CPT eliminates a student's eligibility for OPT.

      What happens if an international student work off campus? ›

      If international students work a job off campus, this will violate their visa status, and if they get caught working illegally, they face the risk of being sent back to their home country.

      Can I leave the US while on CPT? ›

      CPT is authorized with the understanding that you will be working during the entire listed employment period, therefore it is best to limit travel to before or after your CPT dates. Before traveling outside the U.S. you should discuss your travel plans with your employer.

      Can I do CPT after 1 year? ›

      You are eligible to apply up to 90 days before the end of your first year of study. The actual CPT employment can begin only after the first academic year is complete. You CANNOT begin to work before you obtain your CPT authorization from ISSS or continue to work after your authorization expires or you graduate.

      Can I get CPT for second Masters? ›

      The next question would be if you can take up CPT from day one of your second masters in the US? The answer is, No you can't! The requirement to be enrolled full time in an academic program, remains the same, even if you have come back to do second masters.

      Can I work 80 hours a week on OPT? ›

      There is no maximum number of hours that can be worked while on STEM OPT, but because there is a minimum, it may be difficult to work for more than 2 employers. For example, if you work for two qualifying STEM OPT employers, at a minimum, you would need to be working 40 hours per week.

      Can I work more than 20 hours CPT? ›

      Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time CPT; employment of more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time CPT. There is no limitation on the length of time you may participate in part-time CPT but you must be careful to limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week.

      Can I change employer during CPT? ›

      A: No. Students are not eligible to change employers while on CPT Employment. If a student must change their employer to meet the requirements of their degree plan or program, they must apply for CPT Employment and submit the required paperwork for that employment/internship offer.

      Can F-1 student work both on campus and off campus? ›

      F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions.

      Can you work on CPT in summer? ›

      F-1 students at Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified colleges, universities, seminaries or conservatories can participate in summer practical training. Curricular practical training (CPT) is a full-time or part-time training opportunity available during the school year or annual summer vacation.

      Can I work on campus while on CPT in summer? ›

      Students may work over 20 hours per week on-campus when classes are not in session (i.e. summer and winter break) without obtaining CPT authorization. In certain cases, a student may need to apply for CPT or OPT employment authorization for an on- campus job.

      Can I travel to India while on CPT? ›

      As long as you have an unexpired F-1 visa in your passport, and carry the documents you listed, you should be okay to travel abroad.

      Do CPT students pay taxes? ›

      Do CPT (Curricular Practical Training) students need to pay any type of tax on their income? Yes – students with an F-1 visa that are on CPT will not be exempt from Federal Taxes.

      Can CPT work remotely? ›

      The full-time enrollment requirement means that most students have to limit their CPT during the academic year to local jobs or to working for their employer remotely, usually on a part-time basis.

      Do you need CPT for paid internship? ›

      CPT authorization is required for all paid practical training experiences. Payment includes any remuneration or compensation, such as money, meals, lodging, transportation, etc. CPT for unpaid practical training experiences is strongly recommended.

      Is stem OPT 3 years? ›

      Effective immediately, the US's Optional Practical Training programme (OPT) is expanding to allow more international students – in more STEM-related fields of study – to remain in the country for three years after graduation.

      Is CPT a visa? ›

      Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a program that temporarily allows international students with an F-1 visa to gain practical experience directly related to their major through employment, paid or unpaid internships, or cooperative (co-op) education.

      Can I work in USA with student visa? ›

      Your US student visa allows you to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week when school is in session and full-time during school break periods (up to 40 hours per week).

      Can I start internship without CPT? ›

      You MUST be approved for CPT before your internship begins and have a CPT I-20 issued from our office. We do not back- date CPT authorization, so make sure you plan early and submit an application well before your internship is scheduled to begin. Please allow at least two weeks for to process the CPT application.

      Can I work full-time on OPT? ›

      You may work full time when school is not in session. Post-completion OPT: You may apply to participate in post-completion OPT after completing your studies. If you are authorized for post-completion OPT, you must work part time (at least 20 hours per week) or full time.

      Can OPT students take classes? ›

      Studying while on OPT is generally prohibited. Enrolling full-time, taking classes at a higher educational level, or taking courses at another institution will terminate your employment authorization, even if the dates on your EAD are still valid. Any study while on OPT must be incidental.

      Are OPT students paid? ›

      Post-completion OPT can be paid or unpaid training related to your major field of study. You may work for multiple employers (including short-term gigs, self-employment, contract work, or work for hire).

      Can OPT student work 2 jobs? ›

      The short answer: Yes! You can work multiple jobs on OPT. You can accept multiple full-time jobs, part-time jobs, or a combination of both while on your OPT. One critical aspect of the post-completion OPT is that there's no cap on the total number of hours you work.

      Can I use OPT for intern? ›

      Can I volunteer and/or intern during OPT? Yes, you can volunteer or intern during OPT, but it needs to be related to your field of study.

      What is difference between CPT and OPT visa? ›

      The main difference between the CPT and OPT is the period for which the candidate is eligible to work. OPT can be completed before or after graduation, CPT must be completed before graduation.

      Can I apply for CPT while waiting for OPT? ›

      Can I do CPT while I'm waiting for my OPT approval? A. No. CPT is only available prior to the completion of your degree program.

      When can I get CPT? ›

      You must have an I-20 with valid CPT authorization dates to engage in your practical training experience. General CPT Date Requirements: Earliest start date: must be after one year of full-time enrollment during consecutive fall/spring semesters. End date: must end on or before your I-20 end date.

      How long can you work on CPT? ›

      Regardless of whether you are approved for full or part-time on CPT, there is no limit to how long you can work. However, if you work full-time on CPT for 12 months or more, you are not eligible for OPT.

      Do CPT students pay taxes? ›

      Do CPT (Curricular Practical Training) students need to pay any type of tax on their income? Yes – students with an F-1 visa that are on CPT will not be exempt from Federal Taxes.

      What is the maximum CPT period? ›

      There is no time limit to CPT, while full-time OPT is limited to one year. It is possible to do part-time OPT while still in the middle of a program of study, but most students are also eligible for CPT so it is very rare for students to apply for OPT before they complete their required semester hours.

      How long does CPT approval take? ›

      CPT authorization takes 1-2 weeks for the IC to process and requires several documents that may take you time to compile. Meet with your Academic or Faculty Advisor to discuss your CPT plans in detail.

      Can I travel outside the US while on CPT? ›

      CPT is authorized with the understanding that you will be working during the entire listed employment period, therefore it is best to limit travel to before or after your CPT dates. Before traveling outside the U.S. you should discuss your travel plans with your employer.

      Is CPT only for internships? ›

      CPT is an alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or other type of required internship or practicum that a sponsoring employer offers through agreements with a student's school. school's established curriculum. Can be full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part- time.

      Can we work for two employers on CPT? ›

      You may work for more than one qualifying employer while on STEM OPT, but all employment must be related to your most recently completed degree program, all employers must be enrolled in E-Verify and complete reporting requirements (i.e. I-983s), and you must work a minimum of 20 hours a week for each employer.

      Is Day 1 CPT unlawful? ›

      3. Is DAY 1 CPT legal? From DAY 1 CPT being CPT for the second master degree program is not considered illegal. Change of status denial by USCIS from F1 to H1B for DAY 1 CPT candidates is considered illegal.

      Do you need CPT for unpaid internship? ›

      If your internship is unpaid, it is recommended that you apply for CPT authorization for any off-campus internship in the U.S. You will not be eligible to receive any stipend, bonus or other compensation without prior authorization. Labor laws should also be taken into consideration.

      How many times can you apply for CPT? ›

      CPT must be authorized before the student can begin work. Student can have more than one CPT authorization at the same time. One year of full-time CPT eliminates a student's eligibility for OPT.

      Can I get CPT for second Masters? ›

      The next question would be if you can take up CPT from day one of your second masters in the US? The answer is, No you can't! The requirement to be enrolled full time in an academic program, remains the same, even if you have come back to do second masters.

      Can I work more than 20 hours on CPT? ›

      Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time CPT; employment of more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time CPT. There is no limitation on the length of time you may participate in part-time CPT but you must be careful to limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week.

      Will CPT affect H1B? ›

      Answer: Day 1 CPT and H1B are two different immigration statuses. Using Day 1 CPT may not affect H1B approval. However, the change of status from F1 to H1B might not be approved. You may have to get your H1B visa stamped at a US Consulate to change status from F1 to H1B.

      Can CPT be denied? ›

      “Not using the correct combination of codes leads to denials and possibly an unhappy patient,” Ferguson cautions. There are times when CPT codes are not added at all. Either way, revenue cycle staff run into problems with denied claims.

      Does CPT need sponsorship? ›

      CPT is not a separate visa category and does not require “sponsorship” from an employer. However, the student must have a practical training offer from the employer before they can apply for CPT authorization.

      How long can you work on day 1 CPT? ›

      Students must be enrolled in, and pursuing, a full-time course of study and can work no more than 20 hours a week. If a student chooses to pursue CPT to complement their studies, a Designated School Official (DSO) must review and approve their work request.

      Videos

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