Curricular Practical Training

The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) defines Curricular Practical Training (CPT) as an alternative study, internship, cooperative education, or other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by a sponsoring employer through a U.S. College or University.  

CPT is only available for current F-1 students when it is part of the student's established curriculum within their program of study. CPT must be integral to the student's primary major program of study. It cannot be authorized for work related to a student's minor, certificate program, previous or future major.

CPT is not intended for general, ongoing work authorization, or as a bridge to employment after graduation. True volunteer work (i.e., at a food bank or animal shelter) does not require CPT. However, any internship, whether it is paid or unpaid, requires CPT authorization prior to participation.

If authorized, CPT is granted for specific dates, a specific employer, and a specific location. Any practical training or employment that begins prior to the authorized start date or occurs after the authorized end date is considered unauthorized employment and will result in the loss of your legal status inside the US. This include “volunteering” and participating in orientation, training, or welcome sessions with a prospective employer. ISS requires 10 business days to process a CPT request, so please plan accordingly.

All international students enrolled at Purdue University are required to comply with the mandatory health insurance policy, including students participating in full- or part-time Curricular Practical Training.

 Source: [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)]

Who Is Eligible to Apply for CPT

You may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) if you:

  • Are currently in valid F-1 student status;
  • Have been lawfully present in the U.S. and enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year (i.e. two full consecutive fall/spring or spring/fall semesters) and have not had any gaps in required enrollment or status since your last date of enrollment.
    • Exceptions to the one academic year requirement are provided for students enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in curricular practical training. If your degree program requires employment authorization before you have met the one full academic year requirements, please contact a student services immigration counselor.
    • Note: if you’ve had a gap in study or a status violation, the one academic year begins againg and is recalculated from the date you have reestablished valid F-1 status, and resumed your full-time enrollment.
  • Have a job offer for a position directly related to your major field of study
    • The job offer must be an official job offer letter on the organization's letterhead, must be signed by the prospective employer and must include the following: company name; employer's official address; the physical address where you will be working; the exact start and exact end dates of employment; the number of hours per week; and a description of your job duties.
  • Are pursuing a major for which a degree may be awarded (undergraduate students who have not declared a major are not yet eligible for CPT)
Types of CPT

ISS can only authorize CPT if you meet all eligibility requirements, the proposed employment is directly related to your major field of study, and meets one of the two conditions below:

  • Required for Degree Completion
    • For students in programs which require practical training to earn a degree. This requirement must be formally documented in your department’s publications. Included in this category is employment in a required internship or practicum. There are only a few academic programs at Purdue which require off-campus employment for all degree candidates.

      • Students who participate in structured co-op programs through Office of Professional Practice (OPP) are required to participate in internship/practical field experience and this is also considered integral to the established curriculum for degree completion 

  • Recommended for Academic Credit

    • For students in programs which do not require practical training, but for whom the training is being used to fulfill electives/selectives, the practical training must be directly related to the student’s major field of study and commensurate with student’s degree level

      • CPT that is recommended for academic credit, and which is not required for degree completion, is limited to a maximum of two semesters. 

  • Required for Thesis or Dissertation Research

    • MS thesis and PhD students in dissertation or thesis status where the student’s research involves innovative technology only available at a particular company or research facility, or where the employment involves collecting data essential for completing the dissertation/thesis.

      • CPT that is recommended for research or dissertation will require research credit registration

Course/Credit Requirement for CPT - Read Me!

Failure to enroll in, pay for, and complete the associated course or research credit during the semester you participate in the practical training will result in a violation (and the termination) of your lawful F-1 status. Please read the information below carefully.


All students authorized for CPT (regardless of whether it is required or a program elective) must enroll in, pay for, and complete the course or research credit associated with the CPT authorization. The course or research credit must appear on the student's academic transcript, and the student must receive a completed grade in the course. The course or research credit must appear on the student's schedule/transcript in the same semester for which the student is authorized to participate in CPT.

The specific course or research credit required for CPT varies by academic department. Students must discuss the course or research credit requirement with their academic/faculty advisor or graduate coordinator. The number of credit hours may also vary from zero to three or more.

Fall/Spring Fulltime Registration

Students with CPT authorization working less than 32 hours of work a week during the fall or spring semesters must register for and complete a full course of study as explained on F-1 Maintaining Legal Status. This would normally be a minimum 12 credit hours for undergraduate students and either six or eight credit hours for graduate students.

Student authorized for fall and/or spring CPT working 32 hours or more a week are considered fulltime as long as they register for and obtain a grade for the course or research credit requiring the experiential learning.

How is CPT Authorized?

A request for authorization for curricular practical training must be made to the ISS office: authorization for CPT is granted by a Designated School Official (DSO) (a/k/a an ISS Immigration Counselor). A student may begin curricular practical training ONLY after receiving her/his I-20 with the DSO endorsement/authorization for CPT. The CPT authorization will be appear on page 2 of the student's I-20.  Students will need to provide their original I-20 including the CPT authorization, to the employer to prove employment eligibility or eligibility before they may participate in the internship/practicum experience. 

The CPT authorization is very specific to the employer, location, and start and end dates provided in your offer letter. The authorization is also based on the specific course or research credit(s) associated with the CPT authorization. If anything about your employment or the course or research credit is going to change, students MUST seek and receive authorization from ISS before the change occurs.  Students must obtain documentation in advance from the employer to request changes to an authorization. Any requests to change a CPT authorization should be submitted via the Ask Student Counselor (myISS ASC) e-form in the myISS secure portal, a minimum of ten business days in advance of the effective date of the change.


Important Note: Working beyond the end date of the CPT authorization is a very serious violation of your F1 status.


  • Example of Correct Procedure for changes to a CPT authorization: You have been authorized to work at Employer A from 5/18/23 – 8/10/23. Close to the end of your internship, your supervisor asks you to stay an extra week until 8/17/23 to finish a project. For you to be able to do this, your employer must document the request in writing so you can forward it to the designated school official, via a myISS ASC indicating the exact new end date of the CPT.  Your ISS student immigration counselor will then advise you on any additional steps before making the adjustment(s) to your CPT authorization. You may then finish your project and internship in good standing.


  • Example of an Incorrect Procedure for changes to a CPT authorization: You have been authorized to work at Employer A from 5/18/23 – 8/10/23. Close to the end of your internship, your supervisor asks you to stay an extra week until 8/17/23 to finish a project. You are too busy working and forget to inquire with ISS. You remember on 8/11/16 and call ISS to inform them your CPT needs to be extended. Unfortunately, you have already worked one extra day beyond your CPT authorization, so you are already in violation of your F-1 status. ISS informs you that this violation jeopardizes your ability to remain in the US and that you should schedule a time to discuss your options with an ISS student immigration counselor. 
Health Insurance Requirements
All international students are required to purchase and/or maintain the Purdue sponsored health insurance benefits while enrolled at Purdue University.  Because CPT is integral to your established curriculum and is associated with a course or research credit which you must enroll in, pay for, and receive a completed grade for, you must purchase/maintain your Purdue sponsored health insurance benefits while participating in part-time or full-time CPT with an employer while inside the United States.
When to Apply for CPT and When is CPT Authorized?

When to Apply

You may apply for CPT up to 90 days before the end of the semester prior to when you would like to begin participating in CPT. You must apply no later than 12 business days prior to your intended start date to give your academic advisor and ISS sufficient time to process your request.

  • Ex. You have a summer internship offer and intend to start in May. You may begin the CPT application process as early as February.

When is CPT Authorized 

CPT can be authorized for fall, spring, or summer semesters, and is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis only. A new CPT application (including all necessary supporting documents and the documented description of the CPT course or research credit) is required for each semester, including summer sessions. If you particpate in 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you become ineligible to for pre- or post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Undergraduates and Master’s Non-Thesis students may not participate in CPT in their final semester unless the practical training is required for every student in the same program of study in order to complete degree requirements.

CPT may be part-time (20 hours per week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hours per week).

  • Full-time CPT:
    • Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time. If you are authorized for 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you lose your entire OPT benefit.
    • Full-time CPT authorization and enrollment in your CPT course meets the normal full-time registration requirement during fall and spring semesters if
      • the number of working hours per week is equal to or greater than 32 hours.  Working 21 - 31 hours per week does NOT meet the full-time enrollment requirement and must be combined with other coursework to meet full-time enrollment requirements.
      • For start and end dates that don't cover the entire semester, the number of "not-employed" days in the semester must be less than 30 days. For example, if the semester starts Jan 13th, then the latest CPT can start is Feb 12th if the end date is on the last day of classes or later.
  • Part-time CPT: Employment for 20 hours per week or less is considered part-time. There is no penalty for the length of time you may participate in part-time CPT, as long as it continues to meet all requirements for CPT authorization and is integral to the program's established curriculum (see types of CPT). Part-time CPT does not impact eligibility for OPT. If you are authorized for part-time CPT during a fall or spring semester, you must also be registered full-time as a student (12 credit hours for undergraduates, 8 credit or research hours for graduate students) and the required enrollment must require your physical presence on the Purdue University campus.  No more than the equivalent of one class or three credit hours of online/distance/synchronous/asynchronous coursework may apply toward the minimum enrollment requirements.
How to Apply for CPT

Step 1: Obtain job offer letter

Obtain an official offer letter from an employer. The letter must be on the employer's letterhead and  signed by the prospective employer. The letter must include the employer name, the employer's official address, the physical address where you will be working, the start and end dates of employment, the hours per week, and your job duties (must describe the nexus between your field of study and the tasks you will be responsible for completing). YOU MUST circle or highlight each required piece of information on the offer letter, if you fail to circle or highlight each required element, your offer letter will be rejected by ISS. If your offer letter is missing any of this information, you may obtain an email with the additional information from the employer and include the email with the offer letter in your CPT application.

Step 2: Receive departmental recommendation for CPT from your academic advisor, co-op coordinator, faculty advisor, department head, or dean

You must discuss your practical training opportunity and course or research requirement with your academic advisor, co-op coordinator, department head, or dean and receive departmental recommendation before proceeding. If you are unsure who to meet with, please contact your academic unit for instructions.

Step 3: Complete “CPT Statement of Understanding” and “Offer Letter Verification” e-forms

As your first step in the online application process, you will log in to myISS at and navigate to the “F-1 and J-1 Student Services” category. Find the “Curricular Practical Training (CPT)” e-form and click on it. Follow the instructions to complete the “CPT Statement of Understanding” e-form and the “Offer Letter Verification” e-form. You will get an email confirmation upon submission of the job offer letter. ISS will evaluate your job offer letter to confirm it contains all required information. This typically takes three business days.

Step 4: Register for CPT course or research credit

Register for your CPT course or research credit. You can find the course description in MyPurdue.

Step 5: Complete “Immigration Documents Upload” and “CPT Course and Academic Advisor Verification” e-forms

Once ISS has verified that your job offer letter contains the required information, you will be granted access to the next step in your application. You will log back in to myISS to upload your passport (if needed) and most recent I-94 Arrival Record using the link provided by ISS. Then you will navigate back to your CPT application e-form. Do not “start a new request.” Instead, click on your previous submission to continue the application. Click on the “CPT Course and Academic Advisor Verification” e-form and fill in the appropriate information.

Step 6: Wait for processing

Upon submission of these e-forms, your academic advisor will be notified and is required to submit their recommendation before we may begin evaluating the request. Please give your academic advisor 2-3 days to respond as a courtesy.  You will receive email notification from ISS when your advisor has submitted their recommendation. At that time, your application will be forwarded to ISS for processing. ISS processing time will take approximately 5 business days from the date we receive all required e-forms, documents, and your academic advisor's recommendation.

To be fair to all students, each ISS counselor processes requests in the order in which they are received and cannot accommodate expedite requests. Do not work in any capacity, paid or unpaid, until you receive authorization from ISS.

Step 7: Receive your I-20 from ISS

If all eligibility requirements are met, ISS will create a new I-20 reflecting the authorization. ISS will contact you via email after your I-20 has been created and is ready for delivery. The CPT authorization will be printed on page 2 of your I-20. Do not participate in any activities with the employer until the start date of the CPT authorization as shown on page 2 of the new I-20.  Make sure you sign and date your new I-20 and keep all of your I-20 documents with your very important papers "forever."

Changes in or Extension of CPT Authorization

CPT is authorized for specific dates, so if those dates need to change, you must receive authorization for the change before you work beyond the authorized end date of your current authorization. You must give ISS 10 business to process any changes to your CPT authorization. 


To Extend Your CPT Authorization Within a Semester

If you wish to extend your CPT authorization for a few days, your employer must provide written confirmation in the form of a new offer letter or email specifying the new end date. You must provide this verification via MyISS>General Services>Ask Student Counselor (ASC) not less than 10 business days prior to the current end date. 


To Extend Your CPT Authorization for Another Semester

If you wish to extend your CPT authorization for another semester, you must apply for a new period of CPT authorization, as CPT is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis. You must apply a minimum of 10 business days before your current CPT authorization expiration to avoid any gap in employment.


To Shorten CPT End Date

Your employer must provide written confirmation in the form of a new offer letter or email specifying the new end date. Then submit that written confirmation to MyISS>General Services>Ask Student Counselor (ASC). You must provide this verification to the official who authorized your CPT 10 business days prior to the new end date. 


To Cancel CPT

If you wish to cancel your CPT authorization before it begins, your employer must provide written confirmation that you have not worked for them. Please provide this verification to the official who processed your CPT at least 10 business days before your CPT start date or submit MyISS>General Services>Ask Student Counselor (ASC). 

If you have worked any time with your employer but wish to stop your employment and cancel the rest of your CPT authorization, please see the instructions above for shortening your CPT end date, and discuss your plans to maintain your immigration status with an Immigration Counselor in the ISS office according to Contact Student Services | ISS (

Cooperative Education (Co-Op) Programs

Cooperative Education (Co-Op) programs can provide a strong and meaningful complement to the formal education of students. International students may be eligible for co-op programs. It is important to note that international students must apply for CPT for the work authorization to work during their co-op sessions. Acceptance into a Co-Op program is not employment authorization.

3-Session Co-Op: Typically, international students are able to complete a 3-session co-op using three semesters of CPT authorization. If you complete your 3 sessions using less than one year of full-time CPT authorization, you will be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after you graduate.

5-Session Co-Op: International students can participate in 5-session co-ops, but it requires detailed, advanced planning. There are several options to navigate the work authorization necessary to complete a 5-session co-op.

  • One option is to use CPT authorization for all five sessions: this option means you would exceed one year of full-time CPT and would not be eligible for OPT after you graduate.

  • A second option is to use a combination of CPT and pre-completion OPT. Students typically use CPT for three regular semesters (fall and spring semesters) and pre-completion OPT for two summer sessions. Note that every month of pre-completion OPT used takes away one month of post-completion OPT. So, for example, if you use a total of 6 months of full-time pre-completion OPT to complete your co-op program, you would only have 6 months of post-completion OPT left after you graduate. Please note that applications for pre-completion OPT must be submitted to USCIS for adjudication, and it is recommended that you apply at least three months before your intended start date.

If you have been accepted into a Co-Op program, ISS highly encourages you to make an appointment with an ISS Immigration Counselor before you even begin your co-op in order to make a plan of how you can acquire work authorization to participate in all sessions.

Please see the Office of Professional Practice website for more information on Co-Op programs.

Social Security Information

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued by the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and temporary non-residents who are lawfully present, and authorized for employment. SSNs are used to track individual income for taxation purposes. The SSN is not used for identification purposes.

In addition to obtaining authorization for employment, international students must obtain a Social Security number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Currently, SSNs are only issued to non-residents who have been granted employment authorization. Dependents with F-2 status are not eligible for a SSN because they are not authorized or permitted to work in the United States

Once issued, your Social Security Number is yours for life. Keep your card in a safe place along with your other important documents. If you lose your SSN card, you must apply for a replacement card and show proof of current employment.

The SSA provides information for international students on how to apply for a SSN on this site.

1.  What happens if I don't enroll in the course or research credit that is used to substantiate the curricular nature of my practical training (practicum, clinical, internship or co-op)?

Completion of the course or research credit during the semester you participate in the practical training experience is REQUIRED by law.  Failure to complete the course or research credit during the semester you participate in the practical training experience is a violation of your student visa status and will result in a termination of your SEVIS record and lawful status in the United States.

2.  What happens if I have problems registering for my course or research credit.

Please refer registration errors to your academic/faculty advisor or your graduate coordinator.

3.  I just realized that I didn't register for (or complete) the course or research credit associated with my practical training experience.  What are my options?

Contact ISS to learn more about options and next steps when a violation of status has occurred.

4.  I began my practical training experience before I had written authorization from an ISS official, what should I do?

Cease all employment and contact ISS immediately.  CPT cannot be authorized retroactively, therefore a violation of status has occurred.  ISS will counsel you on options and next steps.

5.  Why are there limits on the number of CPT experiences I can participate in?

The purpose for the F-1 visa is to allow potential students to pursue educational objectives in the United States.  The Curricular Practical Training benefit was provided to allow students participating in academic programs that require practical, field, or clinical experiences to complete degree requirements.  Elective practical training experiences that are built into academic programs and offered to all students may be utilized to gain experience in applying classroom principles to real world challenges from a curricular perspective, but they may not extend the time needed to complete the degree.

The need for Curricular Practical Training must be driven by each student's established curriculum; not the student's desire to be employed, or the employer's desire to employ the student. Student should consult with the academic department regarding how many optional or required internship experiences are established in the curriculum. Most only allow for two sessions of optional internships, but only the department would know if the established curriculum permits or requires more: ISS does not have that information.

6.  Why can't I participate in CPT in my final semester?

CPT may not be used as a bridge to OPT, neither may it be used to "fill time" when students are not otherwise engaged in completing final degree requirements.  There are rare occurrences when CPT is required in a student's final semester to complete degree requirements.  These are the only programs for which CPT may be authorized in the student's final semester.

7.  Can I use CPT after I graduate?

No, please see Post-Completion Optional Practical Training.

8. I plan to leave the US and conduct an overseas internship related to my degree. Do I need to report this internship to maintain my F-1 status?

If the internship is in the summer, you are not required to report it to ISS as your F-1 status is maintained as long as you were fulltime in spring and plan to be fulltime in the fall.

If the internship is in the fall or spring, you can maintain your F-1 status with fulltime registration by registering that semester for the course that requires an internship for at least 32 hours a week during that semester. Please submit the MyISS CPT eforms with information on the overseas internship: where it asks for a US state, please select "Indiana." You will obtain a new I-20 stating on page one that you are considered fulltime that semester while conducting a fulltime overseas internship.

9. Am I allowed to work as an independent contractor for CPT?

CPT is authorized for employment "that is offered by sponsoring employers" [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)]; thus the student must have an employer/employee relationship with the company. CPT therefore cannot be authorized when a student will be hired and paid as an independent contractor.