CPT is an authorization 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. 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 Overview and Application Process

We recommend that you meet with an OIE advisor before submitting your request to avoid delays in the process.

To be eligible for CPT you must:

  • Have held F-1 student status for at least one full academic year, unless your training experience is required by your degree program to occur in the first year of graduate studies. It is never possible to do CPT with less than a year of active F-1 status at the undergraduate level. As part of your CPT experience, you must be registered for an internship credit or independent study.
  • Have a training experience related to your field of study. For example, an electrical engineering student might have an internship or a co-op experience in which they work 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. Students seeking to be self-employed can consider applying for pre-completion OPT instead. Work related only to your minor is also not a possibility - it must be related to your major, but is fine if that also relates to your minor. If you are still looking for a training expereince, we recommend working with the Career Center. 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.
  • Receive academic credit for the training experience in the semester in which it occurs. 

Once you are ready, visit iStart and complete the CPT request. You will have to upload a letter from your training location. It must be on company letterhead and include: Start and end date of employment, expected hours per week, address of employment, job title, and a brief description of job duties. Then, the form will be routed to your academic advisor who will have to suport your request. They will have to describe how the training experience ties to your curriculum, the course you will be taking to get credit for this training experience, and they will have to confirm that the training experience is important or integral to your overall plan of study. We strongly recommend speaking with your academic advisor before submitting the request so that they understand your plans and you can discuss course possibilities. 

Once your request is submitted by both you and your advisor, we will review the request within 5 business days. When it is approved, you will receive a new I-20 with the authorization. 
You are not eligible to begin training on CPT until you have been authorized and picked up your new I-20 with the CPT recommendation. The CPT authorization will be for specific dates which can only be changed by working with the OIE.

How many hours per week can I have CPT?

How much you can work depends on the time of year and the nature of your practical training experience. You can have multiple CPT experiences at once, as long as they follow the limits below and are each authorized. 

  • During the Summer semester:
    • ​If you were/will be registered in the fall and spring semesters surrounding the summer term (meaning, it is not your last semester), you may have full-time CPT (20+ hours per week) plus any on-campus employment you want.
    • If the summer semester is your final semester, you can only do part-time CPT (<20 hours per week) unless that CPT experience is required of all students in your program as full-time in the final semester of summer (such as the SIMBA practicum)
  • During the Fall and Spring Semesters, how much CPT you can have varies:
    • If the training experience is required to meet the specific 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. Semester in the City is an example of a Co-Op course that is an acceptable option for full-time CPT. 
    • 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 unpaid optional 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. 
  • During other University Break Periods (Thanksgiving Break, Spring Break, Winter Break), you may have full-time CPT (20+ hours per week). Winter break is only possible for CPT if you are a student in both the Fall semester preceding and the Spring semester following winter break. 

What kind of course should I take for my CPT?

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.

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. Even if you think that you will not receive any compensation for your work, it is 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.

There are some things which are true volunteering and do not require CPT. These include giving your time for altruistic or civic reasons with non-profit organizations where nobody else is paid for similar work and there is no expectation of compensation by either party. You can almost never "volunteer" for a for-profit business, and should always have CPT for experiences. Not sure about your situation? Come talk to us.