What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

CPT is work authorization for F-1 international students to receive further training that is directly related to their degree level and major. CPT authorization is dependent upon the student being academically eligible and the employment meeting federal government regulations.

The employment must be an integral part of the student’s established curriculum. “Integral” here is defined as employment that has a strong and measurable connection to the student’s academic program/goals. When describing the learning objectives of the proposed employment and how those objectives are an “integral” part of the student’s academic program, it is not sufficient justification to state that “the employment is related to the student’s major and provides valuable work experience.”

The employment must not only be related to the student’s major, but must fulfill a specific course requirement, earn internship or practicum credit, or facilitate the student’s successful completion of thesis or dissertation research. In other words, the program curriculum and learning objectives, rather than the student’s desire for employment, should drive the decision of whether the opportunity should be approved as CPT.

What Must I Do to Be Eligible for CPT?

  • Maintain valid F-1 status
  • Enrolled full time at CSU
    • Undergraduates – 12+ credits/semester
    • Graduates – 9+ credits/semester
  • The opportunity must be shown to be an “integral part of an established curriculum”
  • Undergraduate students must have been enrolled for at least one academic year to be eligible for CPT.
  • In general, graduate students must have been enrolled for at least one academic year to be eligible for CPT. However, a student enrolled in a graduate program which requires participation in CPT prior to the completion of one academic year may also be eligible.
  • F-1 students must apply for CPT authorization if they intend to work off-campus as an integral part or planned option of their established curriculum, prior to completion of their academic program, whether or not they will receive any form of payment or compensation.
  • CPT may be part-time (20 hours/week maximum) or full-time (more than 20 hours/week).
  • Students on CPT must continue to make normal academic progress and must maintain full-time academic enrollment unless otherwise eligible for a reduced course load. In some cases, a full-time practicum or internship that is required by the student’s program of study may be considered the equivalent of full-time enrollment.
  • A student participating in CPT for independent study or internship credit that extends over both fall and spring semesters is required to register for the credit in both semesters.
  • A student participating in CPT during the spring semester and extending over summer is only required to register for credit during the spring semester. Likewise, a student participating in CPT during the summer and extending into the fall semester is only required to register for the credit during the fall.
  • A student participating in CPT only for the summer based upon independent study or internship credit is required to register for the credit over the summer.

Student Instructions for Completing the Form

  1. Fill out Page 1 of the application.
  2. Give Pages 3 and 4 to your Academic Advisor to fill out and sign, then return to you.
  3. Give Page 5 to your potential employer to fill out and sign (digital signatures or scanned copies are acceptable), then return to you.
  4. Submit your CPT form to the front desk in Laurel Hall or email to isss@colostate.edu.

Please note: Depending on the time of academic year, it may take up to 7-10 business days for our office to process your request once our office receives your request.

Academic Advisor Instructions for Completing the Form

  1. If you support the student’s curricular practical training request:
    • Complete Pages 3 and 4 of the Curricular Practical Training form
    • Return to the student


This form assists ISSS to adequately document that the proposed employment is in compliance with immigration regulations regarding CPT. According to the regulations:

An F-1 student may be authorized…to participate in a curricular practical training program which is an integral part of an established curriculum.” – 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(I)

A student authorized for full-time CPT may be considered to be pursuing a full course of study if the CPT is required for completion of thesis or dissertation research, or otherwise required for completion of the degree as indicated in an official university publication.

Immigration regulations do not prohibit full-time CPT for students who are still enrolled in coursework, nor do they prohibit CPT during the first year of a new degree program if students have already enrolled at a U.S. university for an academic year at another degree level (please note that time spent studying in an Academic English Program does not count toward CPT eligibility). However, please use your discretion to ensure that this CPT opportunity will not adversely affect normal academic progress, prior academic commitments, or performance, especially for graduate assistants.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the limitations to Curricular Practical Training?

  • Students cannot begin working until authorized by ISSS on Page 2 of their I-20 and the start date on Page 2 of their I-20 has arrived.
  • Employment for the primary purpose of gaining work experience/financial compensation does not qualify.
  • A student authorized for CPT may only be employed by a specific employer, at a specific location, and for specific dates as approved by ISSS. Any changes in the employment (i.e. employer, location, dates of employment) will require a new CPT application.
  • In general, CPT will be limited according to the following guidelines unless your department further restricts CPT participation: 1) two semesters + one summer, 2) three summers, or 3) one semester + two summers. Some exceptions apply for students whose programs require longer participation.
  • Students who use 12 months of full-time CPT will lose eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • Part-time CPT or less than 12 months of full-time CPT does not have any effect on OPT eligibility.
  • Students may not work past the authorization date listed on page 2 of their I-20 without applying for and receiving an additional authorization for employment.

How do I find out if my CPT request has been approved?

  • You will be notified by e-mail when your new I-20 with your CPT authorization is complete.