Off-Campus Employment (Internships)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)- Internships

 What is Curricular Practical Training?

CPT is an academic learning experience that allows a student to apply theoretical knowledge and skills gained through coursework in a practical work environment. CPT can be used during the fall, spring, or summer semesters.

CPT Quick Facts:

  • The practical training must be an integral part of the established major curriculum and directly related to a student's level and major field of study. 
  • In order to be eligible for CPT, F-1 students must be in F status for at least one full academic year in a degree-seeking program preceding the start of the CPT
  • Students must reapply for each semester they wish to participate in CPT.
  • Any days you work must fall within your CPT authorization. If the dates of your internship change after you start your request or your CPT was already approved, you will need to cancel your CPT request and submit a new one.
  • A student must be authorized by the OIS Advisor (DSO) and obtain the new I-20 with CPT Authorization on page two before commencing any work.

>> View the CPT Presentation (YouTube)  

Four Types of CPT at USF

NECESSARY FOR COURSE – The work experience fulfills a requirement of a course as specified by the official course description available to the public in a university catalog or website department course listings. The work experience must be directly related to the major/program listed on the first page of the student’s I-20 and commensurate with the current educational level.

USF CAREER SERVICES CO-OP OR INTERNSHIP (For Undergraduate Students Only) – The work experience is assigned and monitored by USF’s Career Services.  The work experience must be directly related to the program (major) and commensurate with the current educational level.

DISSERTATION AND THESIS – The work experience must be necessary and contribute to the production of the final thesis or dissertation.  The student must be in candidacy and enrolled in dissertation hours OR already in thesis track and enrolled in thesis hours.  

REQUIRED FOR DEGREE PROGRAM – The work experience is specific training that is required for all students in the official major/program in order to obtain their degree but not attached to a course.  The major must appear on page one of the student’s I-20.

Frequently Asked CPT Questions

What steps must I take in order to complete the CPT application process?

  1. Read the CPT Presentation
  2. Meet with graduate coordinator, academic advisor or Career Services to discuss their requirements.
  3. Register for appropriate CPT related course unless your major requires an internship for everyone in the major without course registration. 
  4. Receive internship/job offer
  5. Login to
  6. Complete the CPT Application located under F-1 Practical Training - Apply. (Note: The CPT Application is only visible to current F-1 students).
  7. Academic Advisor or Graduate Coordinator receives automatic email and confirms academic nature of work experience.
  8. Immigration Advisor processing (Wait up to 10 working days after academic department completes the eform.)
  9. Receive e-mail from OIS to pick up I-20 with CPT authorization
  10. Start employment only after receiving I-20 with CPT authorization and on or after the CPT start date listed on page two of your I-20.

When is a student eligible for CPT?

  • Student must be in valid F-1 status
  • Student is enrolled in a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral degree program
  • Student must have been enrolled for one academic year in current degree program at USF. (Time in Academic English or Pathway programs does not count towards this requirement)
  • Academic year is defined as a fall and spring semester
  • Student must be making normal progress toward degree completion

Is there a limit of how much CPT I can have?

  • 12 months of full-time CPT at an educational level eliminates eligibility for OPT at that same educational level.
  • Academic departments may have set restrictions based on the major curriculum.

Are there any restrictions on how many hours I can work while on CPT?

  • Part-time CPT: 20 hours or fewer per week
  • Full-time CPT: 21 hours or more per week

What if I need to request an extension of my I-20 in order to request CPT?

I-20 cannot be extended for the sole purpose of CPT. There must be an academic reason to request a program extension.

What are the enrollment requirements?

Full-time CPT:

  • If full-time CPT will last 12 weeks or more during a Fall or Spring Semester, the student may* be eligible to enroll in less than a full course load.
  • If full-time CPT lasts less than 12 weeks of a Fall or Spring Semester, the student is required to be enrolled in a full-time course load** (including the CPT course)
  • During summer, students can enroll for the CPT-related course only. No additional registration is required for immigration purposes.

Part-time CPT:

  • Students authorized for part-time CPT during a Fall or Spring Semester must be enrolled in full-time course load** (including the CPT course) no matter the duration of the CPT experience
  • During summer, students can enroll for the CPT-related course only. No additional registration is required for immigration purposes.

*Approval of Full Time CPT that will last 12 weeks or more does NOT automatically authorize a student to drop below full time. This will be evaluated during the application process. You must consult with your academic advisor to determine what courses you must register for in addition to your internship in order to maintain normal academic progress.

 **Full-time enrollment requirements for students are as follows:

  • Undergraduate: 12 credit hours of which only 3 credits can be online
  • Graduate: 9 credit hours of which only 3 credits can be online
  • Reduced Course Load (RCL), authorized by OIS, counts as full-time enrollment

What are some sample courses acceptable for the CPT authorization?

  • Internship course
  • Cooperative education course
  • Practicum or field experience course
  • Dissertation or thesis course if the CPT experience is integral to student's research

How many credit hours are required for the CPT-related course?

Course must be credit-bearing – Minimum of 1 credit.

The number of credit hours for the CPT-related course is determined by the department and official course catalog. 

Can I drop a course on which my CPT is based?

No, students may not drop the CPT-related course.

The student will be considered in violation of their F-1 immigration status if they fail to maintain registration in the CPT related course after being approved for CPT. In this case, the student's I-20 and legal status will be terminated (ended) and the student must meet with an immigration advisor for options.

Does CPT have to start the first day of the semester?

No, CPT does not have to start on the first day of the semester. CPT can start up to two weeks prior to the beginning of the semester as long as this does not overlap with the previous semester.

CPT can also be authorized after the semester start date, but the authorization must be on the I-20 before starting work; and students must follow above enrollment requirements; and if the course is added late, the department must include rationale to explain why the work experience is necessary to the program.

When must my CPT end?

If graduating, the CPT must end by the Friday of Graduation Week.

If the student will be continuing their degree after the CPT experience, CPT may extend two weeks after the end of the semester.

Can I request more than one period of CPT?

CPT is granted for one semester at a time. To extend CPT for another semester, students must reapply in iStart.

Remember, 12 months of full-time CPT eliminates eligibility for OPT at that same educational level following completion of degree program.

Can I request CPT and still work on campus?

Current immigration interpretation by the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) does not address concurrent CPT and on-campus employment. Therefore, it is recommended that students who engage in concurrent CPT and on-campus employment limit the total employment to 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring.

When do I submit the CPT request?

Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible since the process includes approval through the academic department.

Students must submit CPT requests at least 15 working days prior to the CPT learning experience. This includes the time necessary for departments to approve their portion of the eform.

There is no mechanism for expedited processing. If the student submits the CPT request and the expected CPT start date is less than 10 days away, the CPT start date will be changed to the date the CPT application is approved, if this approval is later than the date requested on the iStart CPT Application eform.

How do I submit the CPT request?

CPT requests are submitted electronically in iStart. Students log into iStart using their USF NetID and password to complete and submit the CPT eform found under F-1 Practical Training – Apply.

Students must enter the name and contact information for academic adviser, graduate coordinator, or other appropriate department contact if applying for CPT experiences.

The academic advisor, graduate coordinator, or other appropriate department contact will receive electronic notification and is then required to verify and provide supporting information that the work experience matches the criteria for one of the types of CPT at USF listed below: 

1. Verify and provide supporting information that the work experience matches the criteria for one of the types of CPT at USF listed below:

    • The work experience is required for completion of a course requirement for a specific course.
    • The student provides proof from the official USF catalog or official program (major) website course listing indicating that a work experience is required to complete the course.
    • Co-ops are only facilitated through Career Services.
    • If internships are not available through the program of study they may be taken through Career Services.
    • Career Services will provide the International Student Training Assignment Confirmation form to upload.
    • The work experience is necessary and contributes to the production of the final thesis or dissertation.
    • The department contact provides supporting details including where the work experience will appear in the final paper.
    • An internship or work experience is required for ALL students in the academic program (major) to earn the degree.
    • The student provides a copy of this noted in the official publically accessible USF catalog.

2. List all courses the student must enroll in for the CPT semester in order to maintain normal progress towards their degree.

What must be included in the offer letter?

View Sample Offer Letter

Students must upload the CPT learning experience offer letter at the time of submission. The offer letter must be on letterhead and include the following:

  • The student's name
  • The company name and address
  • Name and address of the company or location where the CPT will take place, if different from the address of the company.
  • Description of CPT employment including responsibilities and learning objectives.
  • Specific start (month/day/year) and end date (month/day/year) within the dates of the term.
  • Number of hours of CPT activity per week
  • Name of supervisor
  • Signature of hiring official

What documentation to upload for the “CPT Requirement Proof” in the CPT Application?

Proof is required to demonstrate that your practical experience (internship, practicum, field experience, etc.) is an integral part of your curriculum. Each category of CPT requires a different type of proof.

Please review this document to see the examples of proof. 

What types of jobs qualify for CPT?

In general, CPT is granted for internships, cooperative education, field experiences, practicums, or other similar short term learning experiences.

Must I register for my CPT course before I submit my CPT request?

Yes. Students should consult with academic/faculty advisers for information about courses that are appropriate for CPT prior to submitting the CPT request in iStart.

It is your responsibility to meet all obligations of the CPT-related course. Our office cannot assist with fee adjustments, if you do not find a job or your CPT is denied.

Remember, you will be ineligible for CPT if you have been approved for a RCL for final semester.

What is the timeline for processing the CPT request?

OIS will not start processing a CPT request until the following steps have been completed:

  • Student has passed the CPT Quiz
  • Student has uploaded the CPT Job Offer Letter that meets all requirements.
  • Student has submitted the CPT Application eform
  • Student is registered for the CPT- related course
  • The academic department has approved their portion of the eform or student has uploaded the Career Services assignment form

Within 10 business days after all of the above is completed, OIS will process the CPT authorization.

How will I know if this request has been approved and my new I-20 is ready?

When the CPT request is approved, a new I-20 with CPT authorization will be produced. OIS will send an e-mail to your USF e-mail address with the CPT approved I-20 attached.

Can I submit just one request if I plan to do CPT for more than one semester?

No, students must submit a request for each semester of CPT and register for the CPT-related course.