Go back

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment to gain practical experience in situations where the work serves as an integral part of a student's academic program, prior to completion of that program.

  • Typically an internship or practicum that is a requirement due to enrollment in a course or for a degree.
  • Defined to be “either paid or unpaid alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school”.
  • Be in a valid immigration status with full-time enrollment for at least two consecutive semesters
    • except graduate students:
      • who completed undergraduate degree in U.S. immediately before starting graduate program (on same SEVIS ID)
      • must work as a requirement for their degree program).
    • Students in English language programs are not eligible for CPT.
    • If the student had a gap in study or a status violation, the one academic year waiting period may need to be recalculated once the student has again obtained valid status.
  • Secure a job offer related to the student's field of study.
  • Enroll in the appropriate course during CPT term
  • Obtain CPT authorization listed on I-20 BEFORE beginning employment; authorization cannot be postdated.
    • The Office of International Student Services DSO will approve CPT after establishing the student's eligibility and reviewing the application materials.
    • The authorization is granted by issuing a new I-20 for the student with the employer's information notated on page two of the document.
    • Can only work for approved employer and dates listed on CPT I-20 form.
    • The CPT I-20 form is shown to the employer as evidence of work authorization.

There is no limit to the amount of CPT a student is eligible for; however, if 12 months or more of full-time CPT are used, a student forfeits OPT eligibility. Accrual of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT. CPT is not available after a student completes a degree program.

Students are eligible for CPT under one of the following two categories:

  1. Degree Requirement
    CPT may be authorized when an internship is a requirement of a degree program (i.e. all students in the program must complete an internship to obtain the degree). Authorization can be for full-time or part-time employment, depending on the academic department's requirement.
  2. Course Credit
    CPT may be authorized for students who enroll in a course that requires employment to earn a grade, or a course where students design their own research project based on the employment. Enrollment in the course must be concurrent with the employment. Authorization will be granted on a semester-only basis. However, if a student wishes to work for a period longer than the last day of the semester, he or she must enroll in the next available semester before authorization can be extended beyond the current term.

CPT Semester

Start Date

End Date



day fall semester classes begin

day before spring semester classes begin



day spring semester classes begin

day before summer semester classes begin



day after spring semester finals end

day before fall semester classes begin

Part-time or Full-time *

*Full-time (more than 20 hours per week) employment is allowed for all continuing students in the summer.  If summer is the first or final semester of a student’s degree program, CPT is limited to 20 hours per week.
In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. for no more than five different calendar years are exempt from Social Security taxes. You should be sure to bring this to the attention of your employer because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. Students in F-1 status are subject to all other taxes that may apply, including federal, state and local. For more information, please consult with a tax professional and/or Publication 519 of the Internal Revenue Service.

F-1 students are responsible for complying with all immigration regulations, including employment regulations. Working without the proper authorization is a serious violation of nonimmigrant status in the U.S. If a student fails to comply, he or she may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students and may jeopardize his or her stay in the U.S. Prior to accepting any employment in the US, students should consult with the Office of International Student Services DSO.

  • Always Enroll Full Time. F-1 students must maintain full-time student status every semester; this is defined as 12 credit-hours for undergraduate students and 6 credit-hours for graduate students. F-1 students may only count three credit-hours of online courses toward full-time enrollment requirements.
  • Update Local Address. An F-1 student authorized to engage in Curricular Practical Training is required to report within 10 days of any change in the following: legal name, residence (including changes from one residence hall to another) or mailing address, employer name, employer address and/or periods of employment/unemployment.
  • Maintain the validity of your immigration documents. F-1 students should keep his or her passport valid for at least six months in to the future. F-1 students should keep his or her visa valid if traveling outside the U.S.
  • Change of Program Dates. An F-1 student will not be eligible for an extension of his or her I-20 due to a delay caused by CPT employment. Changes to a program date should occur at least two weeks prior to the new program date or expiration of the current date, whichever is earlier.
  • Change of Degree Program or Level. All program changes such as major, secondary major, minor or degree level must be updated in the SEVIS system.
  • Discuss Transfer Plans with a designated school official (DSO). F-1 students who wish to transfer to another school or to go on to attend graduate school after graduating from Austin Peay State University must notify a DSO.
  • Copies of Immigration Documents. F-1 students should keep copies of all immigration documents including the following: passport photo page, visa in passport, I-94, current I-20, and copies of any I-20 issued.
  • Making Plans for International Travel. An F-1 student must have the second page of the I-20 form signed by a university DSO before traveling. The signature date on the I-20 is valid for only one year of travel; check to make sure the signature is and will be valid upon return. Before leaving the F-1 student must check to make sure that the student visa will still be valid upon re-entry into the U.S. If not, the student will need to apply for a new visa prior to return to the U.S.
  • APSU CPT request form--Schedule meeting with the Office of International Student Services DSO if needed.
    • Discuss CPT requirements
    • Help fill out APSU request form
    • Review required documents
    • Answer questions
  • Request required letters from faculty advisor and employer.
  • Register for the appropriate course for CPT. Note: you must be registered for CPT course in the same semester during which the work will be done (i.e., You must be registered for the CPT course in the summer if you will be working in the summer).
  • Submit completed APSU request form and required letters to Office of International Student Services.
    • Deadline: one week before earliest CPT start date
  • Wait for authorization.
  • Pick up new CPT I-20 form. The Office of International Student Services DSO will issue new CPT I-20 and will notify by email when it is ready. (Usually 5-7 business days)
  • Apply for Social Security Number (cannot apply more than 30 days before start date listed on page 2 of I-20).
  • Begin CPT once start date listed on CPT I-20 has arrived.
  • Comply with F-1 Status Regulations while on CPT.

Letter from the faculty member who will supervise your internship stating the following:

  • your name
  • the specific internship opportunity
  • the specific degree requirement or elective course (course title, course number and number of credit hours)
  • the minimum requirements to complete the internship
  • a reasonable period of time needed to complete the internship (e.g., satisfying the requirements of a one-semester, 3-credit course would normally be done in one semester or less)
  • If CPT is for dissertation research, the student's adviser should provide a detailed letter stating the dissertation topic, what research will be carried out, and why it is necessary for the dissertation.

Letter can be sent by email from faculty member’s APSU email directly to Office of International Student Services DSO.


Letter offering internship employment from your employer on company letterhead that is signed by the prospective employer. The letter should include:

  • your name
  • employer’s name (company)
  • employer’s (company) address
  • beginning/ending dates of employment (keep in mind that CPT can only be authorized one semester at a time)
  • how many hours you will work weekly
  • location where employment will take place
  • a description of duties in sufficient detail to clearly show them as appropriate to meeting the requirements for your degree