Curricular Practical Training

Off Campus Employment: Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of off-campus work permission for F-1 international students who are currently pursuing study programs in the U.S. and want to gain experience in their fields of study. CPT is not available after a student completes degree program requirements. In order to be considered for CPT, students must show that the internship opportunity is an integral part of the degree program. An F-1 student may be eligible for CPT based on a required internship class for academic credit toward degree completion or participation in the co-op or internship program through the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD). F-1 students must receive the approval for their CPT authorization from International Services prior to beginning their employment. Students who begin the employment before receiving approval are considered to have violated their status. For general information about OPT and CPT, please visit the Study in the States guidance provided by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). For specific information including how to apply, please review the IS-130 Request for CPT Authorization form or contact International Services during the designated CPT advising hours below. You are also encouraged to read through the list of frequently asked CPT questions below.

CPT Walk-In Advising Hours: 

If you have questions after reviewing the CPT guidance below, you can meet with an international services advisor to discuss your options and learn more about the CPT program.

Monday - Friday: 1:00-4:00

  • General Eligibility

    What are some of the factors that determine CPT eligibility?
    To be eligible for CPT you must have been enrolled as a full-time student at least one academic year. The practical training opportunity must be required or integral to your degree program. The practical training opportunity cannot take place after your defense date and it cannot delay graduation. While on CPT, you are required to maintain your F-1 status including being enrolled full-time and maintaining a physical presence at Clemson University during required academic terms. Only three online credits may count towards full time enrollment. 

    What is considered a required internship?
    A required internship is an internship that is either required for all students within a program or all students within a track of a program. Academic departments may consider required internship as full-time enrollment. 

    Am I eligible for CPT based off of thesis/dissertation research?
    To be eligible for CPT based off of a thesis/dissertation, the internship must be required for the completion of the thesis or dissertation. In this case, you need to collect data or conduct research through an off-campus work experience specifically to write your thesis or dissertation. Students authorized for research CPT are required to enroll in thesis or dissertation credits.

    My program does not require an internship. Am I still eligible to apply for CPT?
    Yes, if you are interested in participating in curricular practical training, but your program does not require an internship, you may still be eligible to participate in CPT. There are multiple options available including:

    Students participating in optional internships must enroll in a credit bearing course that aligns with the internship opportunity. If you have an internship opportunity that CPT would not be an option for, you may also want to consider pre-completion OPT.

    What are the enrollment requirements?
    During required academic terms (fall, spring, (and summer if final term)), students are expected to enroll in a full course load. Departments may consider a required internship to be full time during an academic term. Students participating in CPT must also enroll in a course that aligns with the internship opportunity.  If the internship is not required, the course that aligns with the CPT opportunity must be credit-bearing. If summer is not the final term, students are not required to enroll full-time or maintain physical presence.

    What is the difference between COOP and internships through the CCPD office?
    If you are not participating in a departmental internship course or an internship related to your thesis or dissertation, CCPD will meet with you to review your practical training opportunity and determine the course that best aligns with this experience. 

    The Cooperative Education Program is designed for multi-rotational experiences while the Internship Program is designed for one-time experiences.

    How many hours am I eligible to work while on CPT?
    You can engage in one of two types of CPT; either part-time CPT or full-time CPT. If you plan to work a combination of on and off-campus employment, the total number of hours will be reviewed for CPT eligibility. Please see the bullets below for the number of hours you are eligible to work each week while authorized for the two types of CPT:

    • Part-time CPT Authorization: 20 hours or less per week
    • Full-time CPT Authorization: more than 20 hours per week

     * Please note that you are eligible to work up to 20 hours per week on-campus without CPT authorization and up to 28 hours on-campus over recognized University holidays with proper HR approval.

    *Students with on-campus employment are limited to part-time CPT during the academic year if participating in a non-required internship opportunity.

     Are there limits on CPT participation?
    Participation in full-time CPT is limited to one calendar year per academic level. CPT authorization is only available for off-campus employment with the exception of degree-required internships that take place on-campus.

    If I utilize my CPT benefit, will I still be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
    Students who utilize full-time CPT for 11 months and 28 days or more will lose eligibility for post-completion Optional Practical Training. Those participating in part-time CPT or less than 11 months and 28 days of full- time CPT will not lose eligibility to participate in post-completion OPT.

    Can I accept a job offer before CPT is approved?

    You can accept a job offer before your CPT is approved, but we encourage you to let your employer know that your eligibility to perform the work is contingent on the CPT approval.

    Can I begin working before CPT is approved?
    No. If you work prior to receiving your I-20 for CPT or prior to the date authorized for you to begin CPT, then you are considered to be engaging in unauthorized work within the U.S. which will result in the immediate termination of your SEVIS record. Unauthorized work within the U.S. is a serious infraction and can result in loss of future benefits or the ability to remain legally inside the U.S.

  • Application Process

    What is the process to request CPT?

    • Step 1: Review the General Eligibility section above before seeking internship opportunities. If you have any questions regarding the CPT process or policies, contact International Services.
    • Step 2: Collect your practical training offer letter and complete section I of the CPT Recommendation Form
    • Step 3: Meet with your academic advisor to determine if the training opportunity is integral to your program and is feasible with your course load. After review of the practical training opportunity, your academic advisor will need to complete and sign section II of the CPT Recommendation form.
    • Step 4: Enroll in the course connected to the practical training opportunity:
      • If you are requesting CPT for the purpose of a degree-required internship course, you must enroll in the designated internship
      • If your internship is required to complete research needed for your thesis or dissertation, you must enroll in thesis or dissertation credits.
      • If your department has an elective internship course that you will receive credit for you may enroll in it.
      • If your CPT opportunity does not align with one of the options previously mentioned, you must meet with the CCPD office to enroll in the assigned internship course and have Section III signed by an You must bring a copy of your practical training opportunity offer letter to this meeting so that the CCPD advisor can determine whether to place you in the INT 8010 or COOP 6010/6020 course.
    • Step 5: Complete the CPT Request E-form in the Sunapsis iStart Portal and upload required documents. You will receive an email once your CPT authorization has been reviewed either asking for further documentation or confirming that your CPT authorization has been approved or denied. Please note that you cannot begin your practical training experience until the CPT request has been approved and until the dates listed on the CPT authorization on your I- 20 Certificate of Eligibility.
    • Step 6: : Once approved, you must successfully complete all requirements associated with the curricular practical training while understanding that the experience will count as your full-time enrollment for the term. If you do not attend your practical training placement, your SEVIS record will be terminated for failure to maintain student status.

    What is the process to amend or cancel CPT?
    To extend or amend the dates of a current CPT authorization, you must submit a new CPT request through the iStart Portal. This request must include the updated offer letter, proof of enrollment, as well as new signature(s) from your academic advisor and CCPD advisor, if applicable. 

    If your practical training opportunity completes or ends earlier than the authorization listed on your CPT I-20 form, you should notify the International Services office in writing. To shorten a current CPT authorization, you will be required to request an updated letter or email from your employer verifying the new employment end-date. This documentation is to be sent to is@clemson.edu. You must also notify your academic advisor and CCPD or COOP if you are engaging in the CCPD internship or Cooperative Education experience. Your enrollment will be reviewed by International Services at this time to ensure that you are maintaining status and continuing to engage in a full course of study for the semester in which you elect to discontinue your CPT experience. If your failure to complete the CPT experience results in a reduction of course load below the full-time government requirement, your SEVIS record will be terminated for failure to maintain status. 

    To cancel a CPT authorization prior to beginning employment, you must request a letter or email from your employer verifying that you did not participate in any employment with that company. This documentation is to be sent to is@clemson.edu. You must also notify your academic advisor and CCPD or COOP if you are engaging in the CCPD internship or Cooperative Education experience


  • Maintaining Status on CPT

    How do I maintain F-1 status throughout my CPT authorization?

    • Maintain full-time enrollment
    • Complete all requirements for course that aligns with CPT opportunity
    • Update IS office of any changes or updates with CPT authorization including but not limited to:
      • Any change in CPT authorization dates
        • Amended start-date
        • Shortening CPT authorization
        • Extending CPT authorization
      • Change of physical site of employment