CPT is a work authorization that allows you to work off-campus in a position related to your major, such as an internship. The position can be paid or unpaid. 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 employer and a letter from your advisor. You must also register for an appropriate course, such as an internship or independent study course, during the same semester as your CPT authorization.
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).
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 letters from your academic advisor and employer which support your CPT request.
The letter from your employer 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
The letter from your academic advisor must be on departmental letterhead and must include:
- Job title and employer, start and end date
- Course for which you will be registered, including number of credits and term of registration
- Explanation of how the internship 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.
- Statement that the CPT experience is important/integral to your overall plan of study
Students are not eligible to begin employment on CPT until after a new I-20 has been issued with the authorization. You are encouraged to 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 unpaid/less-than-minimum wage, 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 paid, required, or 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 jobs are appropriate on CPT?
Your job should be related to your major. For example, an electrical engineering student might have an internship or a co-op experience in which he/she works 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.
How do I find a CPT job?
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?
You can have a part-time CPT authorization for any time during the year, but your total employment of on and off-campus work cannot exceed 20 hours. Full-time CPT authorizations are available for school breaks. Anything over 20 hours is considered full-time.
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?
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 job offer. But once you have properly applied for CPT (see below), the OIE will process your request within 5 business days. You cannot begin work until you have been authorized.