CPT is an opportunity for you to gain practical experience related to your major before you graduate.  If you want information about working in the US after you graduate, please refer to our website for information about Optional Practical Training (OPT).

CPT is an authorization that that allows F-1 students to gain practical training experience in their field of study, during their academic programs.  Students must get CPT authorization for any off-campus training experiences, whether paid or unpaid. This includes off-campus training experiences which are required by your program, such as student teaching or clinical internships. 

To apply for CPT, you must receive a job offer, then complete an e-form in iStart.  The e-form requires a letter from your training supervisor and will require academic support.  You must also register for an internship or independent study course during the same semester as your CPT authorization.

How do I apply?

First, review this webpage carefully for CPT rules and eligibility requirements. Once you are ready, visit iStart and complete the CPT request. To complete the CPT request, you will need support from your training opportunity employer, as well as academic support.

The letter from your training location must be on company letterhead from and must include:

  • Start and end date of employment, expected hours per week
  • Address of employment
  • Job title, and a brief description of job duties.
  • Supervisor name and contact information

Your academic advisor will need to complete a form through iStart after you initiate your request where they will support the request and:

  • Identify which you will be registered for, including number of credits and term of registration
  • Explain of how the training experience ties to your curriculum/field of study. For students seeking to enroll in thesis credits, a clear explanation of how the work is necessary for the completion of your graduate thesis. 
  • Confirm that that the training experience is important/integral to your overall plan of study

Students are not eligible to begin training on CPT until after the request has been approved and a new I-20 has been issued with the authorization. We recommend that you meet with an OIE advisor before submitting your request to avoid delays in the process.

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be eligible for CPT you must have held F-1 student status for at least one full academic year, unless your internship is required by your degree program to occur in the first year of studies.  As part of your CPT experience, you must be registered for an internship credit or independent study.

What kind of course do I need to take?

You need to be registered for the internship credit or independent study in the semester in which you are completing your CPT experience.  For example, if you have a summer internship, you need to register for an internship credit/independent study course in that summer.  Students cannot use a non-internship/independent study class for CPT unless the course has a requirement (in writing on the syllabus) that all students must participate in an off-campus internship associated with the course. Graduate students may register for thesis credit only if the internship experience is required to complete the thesis or dissertation. Talk to your academic advisor to determine which internship credit or independent study course is most appropriate.

Students who are participating in an elective, summer internship may benefit from UVM's "SINT" option, which reduces the cost of the internship credit to $100 per credit hour. SINT credit counts for CPT and will be shown on the student's transcript. To register for a SINT course, first speak with your academic advisor and then email the Internship Coordinator in the Career Center for a course override. Students who are taking internships which are required or occur during the academic year are not eligible for this SINT option. If approved for SINT, you must still be approved for CPT following the standard process. SINT simply helps to reduce the cost of tuition.

What kinds of training experiences are appropriate on CPT?

Your training experience must be related to your major field of study.  For example, an electrical engineering student might have an internship or a co-op experience in which they with other engineers on a new kind of electronic device.  A business student might work at the same company but in a different department, like accounting.  A nursing student might help with patient care in a hospital. There are so many different possibilities, but all options must be defined by your academic college as an “important” experience for your program. Self-employment is not a possibility on CPT at UVM. Students seeking to be self-employed can consider applying for pre-completion OPT instead. 

How do I find a CPT experience?

The counselors at the Career Center are a great place to start.  You should also talk to your academic advisor and your professors.  They can tell you where other students in your major have had internships or co-ops.

How much can I work?

How much you can work depends on the time of year and the nature of your practical training experience. 

  • During the Summer semester, you may have full-time CPT (20+ hours per week) if you were registered as full-time student in the Spring and Fall semesters surrounding that summer. You cannot do Full-time CPT in the summer if that summer is also your final semester unless that CPT experience is required of all students in your program as full-time in the final semester of summer. 
     
  • During the Fall and Spring Semesters, how much CPT you can have varies:
    • If the training experience is required to meet degree requirements of your program, you may be authorized for full-time (20+ hours per week) or part-time (<20 hours per week) for that training experience. Beyond that required training experience, you may hold up to an additional total of 20 hours per week of any on-campus employment and/or optional off-campus CPT. Any additional CPT would require a second authorization and would need to receive different academic credit than the required internship. 
       
    • If the experience is for a Co-Op course, you may be authorized for full-time (20+ hours per week) for that training experience. Beyond that required training experience, you may hold up to an additional 20 hours per week of any on-campus employment.
       
    • If the experience is optional, you are receiving academic internship or independent study credit for it and it is unpaid, you may be authorized for part-time (<20 hours per week) for that training experience. Beyond that required training experience, you may hold up to an additional 20 hours per week of any on-campus employment.
       
    • If the experience is optional, you are receiving academic internship or independent study credit for it, and it is paid, you may be authorized for part-time (<20 hours per week) for that training experience and your total paid experiences between on and off-campus work may not exceed 20 hours per week. 

Can I have two CPT experiences at once?

Yes, you can have two CPT experiences at once, but they must both be authorized.  All of your CPT experiences plus your on-campus job cannot exceed 20 hours per week total during the semester.  During the summer, there is no limit on the number of hours you can work.  If you work more than 20 hours per week during the summer for your CPT experience, you must have a full-time CPT authorization.

Do I need CPT for unpaid work?

Yes. Basically, if you would put it on your resume as an experience to show employers you are more qualified than you would be otherwise, you need CPT. This includes off-campus training experiences which are required by your program, such as student teaching or clinical internships. 

You must have a CPT authorization to receive any kind of compensation for your work.  Compensation includes a paycheck, a stipend, housing, meals, etc. If you will receive compensation or are completing a form I-9, you must have CPT.  Even if you think that you will not receive any compensation for your work, it still a good idea to have a CPT authorization.  CPT is like insurance—it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Come talk with an OIE advisor for more information.

How long does it take to approve CPT?

CPT cannot be authorized until you have a training offer letter. But once you have properly applied for CPT through iStart, the OIE will process your request within 5 business days. You cannot begin work until you have been authorized and picked up your new I-20 with the CPT recommendation.