Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary authorization that allows a student in F-1 status to participate in a practical training experience directly related to the student’s major field of study, granted during program of study. Such experiences include internships, practicums, field experiences, and student teaching.
The practical training may be required or optional, but it must be an integral part of the curriculum and relate directly to the student’s major field of study. Students must be enrolled in an appropriate internship/practicum/independent study course and the training must be performed before completion of degree course work. Exceptions exist for degrees that require completion of courses before practical training begins.
Paid vs. Unpaid
Employment (Paid and Unpaid) is defined as any situation where one party provides services that benefit another, and in exchange receives some type of benefit from the party to whom the services were provided. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor consider both monetary and non-monetary compensation in exchange for services as employment. Thus, both paid and unpaid positions are considered “employment” and will need authorization before the start of the practical training experience.
Under very narrow circumstances students may participate in limited unpaid volunteer activities without employment authorization (i.e., volunteering at a service or humanitarian organization). If you are interested in volunteering, before doing so, please consult the Office of Global Education to find out if authorization is required.
Failure to obtain proper authorization, even for an unpaid position, can result in a violation of your visa status.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time
During the academic year (required semesters), CPT is limited to part-time (no more than 20 hours per week) and you must continue to be enrolled as a full-time student. Full-time CPT (more than 20 hours per week) is generally available to students only during the summer break or vacation semester.
F-1 students must register for an appropriate UMF course concurrently while participating in the proposed practical training/internship to be eligible for CPT.
- If you have more than one major, you can enroll in an internship course for either major based on the type of employment you would like to pursue.
- If there is not an internship course in your major department listed in the Course Catalog, students can contact their department to see if they are eligible for an independent study.
To be eligible for CPT at UMF you must:
- Be a full-time degree-seeking student
- Have declared a major
- Have been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year (2 consecutive semesters)
- Have secured an internship/practical training experience
- Be enrolled in the appropriate internship/practical experience course to receive academic credit (minimum 1 credit) for your proposed CPT. The course should be listed in your department or college’s course selections and should be available to any student
How to Apply for CPT
1. Meet with the International Student and Scholar Advisor in the Office of Global Education
- Submit the Advising Appointment Request Form to schedule a meeting.
2. Determine and Register for the Appropriate Internship Course
- Work with your Academic Advisor to determine the appropriate course
- Students must be registered for the appropriate course concurrently while participating in the proposed practical training/internship.
- Students must register for the course BEFORE applying for CPT.
3. Secure a practical training experience/internship related to your major field of study
Once you have secured an internship/practical training experience you will need an official “Offer Letter” written on company/organization letter head and signed by your employer that contains ALL of the following elements:
- Your Name and Address
- CPT Company/Organization Name – offer letter must be on company letterhead
- Exact Practical Experience start and end dates
- Your CPT start date must be a date that is at least 3 weeks in the future
- The start and end dates for CPT must fall within the official dates of the academic term for which you are enrolled in the CPT course.
- Number of Hours per Week
- Total Number of Weeks
- Compensation (if applicable) – hourly rate or total salary
- Internship/Practical Experience title
- List of Job Responsibilities/Job Description
- Description of Training and Supervision – how student will be supervised and/or trained
- Physical Address of the practical experience location (street, city, state, and zip code)
- Supervisor Name, Title, Phone and Email
- Supervisor Signature
For guidance on the format of the CPT Offer Letter, see our Sample Offer Letter (pdf)
NOTE: Education majors participating in practicums/student teaching do not need an offer letter. Instead you will need to obtain a Practicum or Student Teaching Agreement/Contract from the Education Division.
4. Submit the F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Application
- Do not submit the CPT Application until you have confirmed that you are registered for the appropriate course during the appropriate term.
5. Have your Academic Advisor submit the F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Academic Advisor Recommendation Form
- Your Academic Advisor must recommend CPT as an integral part of your academic program.
- Provide your Academic Advisor with a copy of your employment offer letter/practicum-student teaching agreement. They will need details from these documents in order to submit the recommendation.