Employment / Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training

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Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of off-campus work authorization which permits eligible F-1 international students to engage in paid or unpaid work experience which "is an integral part of the established curriculum" and "directly related to the student's major area of study." Employment includes alternate work/study internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum.

Integral part of an established curriculum means the opportunity must be required by the curriculum or, if not required, the student must receive academic credit for the training. Enrollment in a specified course must be concurrent with the employment (see CPT Start and End Date section). CPT is not possible for graduate students enrolled in GRAD 700. If the work experience is solely sought because it is beneficial, relevant, or excellent professional/personal experience, it does NOT qualify for CPT. Student should seek advisement from ISS advisor regarding eligibility for other off-campus work permits.


An F-1 student is eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training if they meet all of the following requirements:

  1. Must be in valid F-1 status for one academic year (at least two semesters). A transfer student must have completed at least one semester at CSUF prior to the CPT authorization.
  2. Must maintain a full course of study in the program indicated on I-20
  3. Must be in good academic standing (not on academic, administrative, disciplinary, or graduate probation). Please consult with your department for specific internship requirements.
  4. Must obtain approval from designated academic or faculty advisor(s) in College and/or Department.
  5. Must enroll in internship course or equivalent to receive academic credit for training.

Employer Specific Authorization
CPT is an employer specific work authorization. You are ONLY authorized to engage in employment as listed on your I-20. If you change the position or host organization prior to the internship start date, then you MUST immediately notify International Student Services (ISS) office, your major or faculty advisor, and re-submit all required Internship/CPT paper work with a new offer letter.

Part-Time CPT: Work experience for 20 hours or less per week. While a student is continuing a degree program, only part-time CPT will be allowed during the Fall or Spring semesters. It does not affect eligibility for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Full-time CPT: Work experience for more than 20 hours per week. Full-time CPT is available during the summer. It can be authorized for student's last term/semester on a case-by-case basis if student submits a letter on official departmental letterhead from Academic/Faculty Advisor explaining how this practical training is an integral part of the student's capstone, thesis, or master's project. If you accumulate 12 months of full-time CPT you will not be eligible to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).

CPT combined with On-Campus Work: During Spring or Fall semester, if you plan to work on-campus while on approved part-time CPT, the combined employment time cannot exceed 20 hours total per week. (Example: On-campus work = 10 hours; CPT = 10 hours; combined employment = 20 hours per week).

CPT Start Date and End Date
Academic internship may begin as early as the first day of the semester and must end no later than the last day of final exams week. It is your responsibility to inform the internship host organization that your internship dates must fall within the dates of the CSUF academic semester or term. Please see chart below:

Internship Term Semester/Term Start Date Earliest Internship Start Date Semester/Term End Date Latest Internship End Date Deadline to submit CPT Request to International Office
Spring 2017 01/21/2017 05/19/2017 Add & Drop Deadline of Spring
Summer 2017 05/30/2017 08/04/2017 Add & Drop Deadline of Summer

Applying for second internship in a separate semester or term
Consult with an ISS advisor if you wish to participate in a second internship with your current host institution in the next semester or term. The following restrictions apply.

An academic internship is considered a class. A student receiving credit for taking the same class more than once would not be academically prudent.

  • The student should be engaging in a different experience where he/she will lean new concepts and skills.
  • The entire approval process: registration and CPT authorization process must be repeated.

CPT vs. Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

CPT Pre-Completion OPT

You must register for the internship or equivalent course.

No internship course registration is required.
You pay the tuition and fees for the course. CPT authorized by ISS office. Allow 10-15 business days processing time. File Form I-765 Application for Employment with USCIS application fee; allow 2-3 months average processing time.
CPT is authorized for a specific period to coincide with the semester. You request an intended start date. You may begin to work after the approved date upon the receipt of your EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card.
Deadline to apply for CPT is the Add & Drop deadline for Fall, Spring, or Summer term Apply no earlier than 90 days prior to your desired start date of employment.

You cannot change employers during the CPT authorization.

You may change employers during the approved pre-completion OPT period.
If you obtain a second internship with your current host organization, you need to re-enroll for the internship course, repeat CICE registration, and CPT application process. Pre-completion OPT time will be deducted from total 12 months of Optional Practical Training allocation.
You are not eligible for CPT while on GRAD 700.

You are eligible for Pre-Completion OPT while on GRAD 700.

Application Procedure for CICE Academic Internships
The Center for Internships & Community Engagement (CICE) administers the process of approving academic internships for credit. In order to be eligible for CPT you must be enrolled in the academic internship class for your discipline during the semester you will be conducting the internship. This is the mechanism through which you will receive course credit. CICE’s Academic Internship Information Cards provide specific information for each major’s class, along with instructions on how to find an existing internship or register a new one, and how to complete the CICE registration process.

Overview of the Steps to Obtain CPT:

  1. Review ISS website to determine eligibility and application requirements. If you have questions about your eligibility, meet with an ISS advisor during walk-in advising hours.
  2. Find an internship position. We recommend you check with your academic department or visit Titan Connection to search for an internship.
  3. Obtain an offer letter from your internship site and ask them to register with CICE.
  4. Complete the student CICE registration and print the required forms.
  5. Obtain your academic department's permit to enroll, if required.  See CICE info Cards for requirements. 
  6. Enroll in appropriate internship course and number of units for your major. Please be aware of enrollment deadlines!
  7. Download and complete CICE Academic Internships: Curricular Practical Training Request form.
  8. Submit this form and CICE paperwork to International Student Services Office, UH 244 and allow time for processing. You will be contacted by ISS to pick up your new I-20 with CPT work authorization as soon as it is ready. 

Application Procedure for non-CICE Internships

  1. Review ISS website to determine eligibility and application requirements. If you have questions about your eligibility, meet with an ISS advisor during walk-in advising hours.
  2. Find an internship position. We recommend you check with your academic department or visit Titan Connection to search for an internship.
  3. Read the CPT handout and complete Non-CICE Internships: Curricular Practical Training Request form.
  4. Obtain your department academic advisor's approval and signature.
  5. Enroll in the appropriate course and number of units as determined by the department academic advisor.
  6. Submit your CPT request form, signed job or internship offer letter, proof of course enrollment, Study Plan (for graduate students) or Titan Degree Audit (for undergraduate students) to International Student Services Office, UH 244 and allow time for processing of your documents. You will be contacted by ISS to pick up your new I-20 with CPT work authorization as soon as it is ready.

Deadline to apply for CPT: Last add/drop date (with late fee) of current semester. Please check the online Registration Guide for the actual date. You cannot begin the internship until you have received the new I-20 with CPT authorization and CPT start date has begun.


Important Reminders

  • Once you submit the required application form to the International Student Services Office (in UH 244), you will be given a new I-20. CPT Work Authorization is noted on page 2 of your new I-20, including the name of the employer, worksite or location & authorization dates. This is the only form of work authorization you will receive from the International Student Services Office.
  • Internships CANNOT be authorized the same day you see an Advisor or even one day before you start your internship. Please plan ahead.
  • UNPAID academic internships require CPT and registration in the internship course.
ISS Office Hours

Monday through Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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