Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an employment option available to F-1 students when it is an integral part of the curriculum or academic program. According to UCIS regulations, this employment may be an internship, cooperative education job, a practicum or any other work experience that is either required for your degree (as defined in the course catalog) or which is for academic credit.
Through Optional Practical Training, students who have completed their course of study—or everything except the thesis or dissertation—may be employed full time for one year in their field of study. The year of full-time training may be reduced if the student has previously been authorized for it or has spent more than one year in full-time Curricular Practical Training. Optional Practical Training is also known as a “paid internship for credit.”
Optional Practical Training and Curricular Practical Training require consultation with the foreign-student advisor and work authorization from the USCIS. Be sure to complete the application process at least three months before you intend to begin working.
You may not be employed until you receive the authorization. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Authorization Form Checklist for Optional Practical Training (OPT)