The information on this page is intended for current international students who wish to request authorization for CPT. If you are a faculty member with questions about CPT for your international students, please see our CPT FAQ for Faculty document (view here) or contact an OIA staff member.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is required for F-1 students who intend to engage in a practical training experience such as an internship during their program of study. CPT is intended to provide temporary work authorization so students can gain hands-on, practical work experience in situations where the work serves as a required or otherwise integral part of a student's academic program prior to graduation.
To be eligible for Curricular Practical Training, the following conditions must be met:
You must have been in F-1 status and in your program for one academic year.
You must have a job or internship offer for a position that directly relates to your degree program or major field of study.
Your degree program/major field of study must require practical training as a condition of graduation or your academic program must offer a credit-bearing training opportunity that is an important, but optional, part of the program of study.
To apply for CPT authorization (click on a step to show directions):
To make your online request application easier to complete in Step 2 below, you should gather and complete the following before starting your application:
- Talk to your program advisor, course professor, or department chairperson to confirm that an internship/practical training experience is, in fact, part of your program. CPT is not something you can apply for before because you want to work off-campus; instead, CPT authorization must be requested because there is an academic need for it. Once you have confirmed that you do need CPT authorization, inform your advisor/professor that you will need to send him/her an electronic recommendation request. You will do this in Step 2 below. Your advisor/professor DOES NOT need to complete a separate letter of recommendation for this. The recommendation should be completed online through OIA's system.
- Obtain an offer letter from an employer/internship supervisor stating the terms, length of employment/internship, number of hours per week you are expected to work, and the location of employment/internship.
Once you have gathered the necessary documentation, you must complete OIA's online application to request CPT authorization. You will be asked to submit yor offer letter and to request the electronic recommendation from your advisor/professor. To begin your application, click the button below.
Begin CPT Application
To finish an application you've already started, go to
Once your online application is submitted, an OIA advisor will review your request within 3 to 5 business days. If all requirements are present, your I-20 will be updated with the appropriate information and will be printed for you to pick up. Your employer will likely need this I-20 to verify your work authorization. If additional information is needed about your request, an OIA advisor will contact you to make an appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
CPT authorization is necessary whenever an F-1 student plans to undertake an experiential component to a class or academic program in the form of work experience. At CMU, these experiences usually take place in the form of internships.
Yes, CPT is still required. Unpaid internships can still be considered employment by the U.S. Department of Labor. CPT authorizes your employment in both paid and unpaid situations.
It does depend on the nature of the internship experience and who you will be working for. If you will be working with a CMU department or organization, CPT may not be necessary provided that you are not engaged in more than 20 hours of on-campus employment inclusive of any existing employment you may have with the university (i.e. general student assistant, graduate assistant, etc.). If your internship experience alone or your experience combined with your existing on-campus employment totals 20 hours or more each week during the academic year, CPT authorization is necessary.
If the internship meets the U.S. Department of Labor’s definition of “employment” and you are found to have engaged in that employment unlawfully, there could be serious negative consequences on your immigration status in the United States. These consequences could include being considered “out of status” or being denied entry to the United States in the future.
Completing one full year of full time CPT will make you ineligible for post-completion OPT. Part-time CPT or full time CPT of less than one year, however, does not impact OPT eligibility.
If you have additional questions about Curricular Practical Training, please contact the OIA Front Desk and schedule an appointment with an OIA advisor or stop by the office during walk-in appointment times. The OIA Front Desk is reachable at (989) 774-4308 or firstname.lastname@example.org.