Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a pre-completion, off-campus employment authorization available to students in good F-1 status. CPT is defined by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as employment which is to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. This work experience must be an “integral part of an established curriculum” and you must receive credit for the CPT.

CPT should be approached from a curricular perspective and only secondarily from the employment perspective. That is to say that the focus should be on the academic outcome from the experience rather than a student’s desire for employment.

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

Additional information and links to required forms are below. You are strongly encouraged to familiarize yourself with CPT requirements and restrictions before you start looking for a CPT opportunity.

MISSOURI S&T RESOURCES

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Eligibility Requirements

The following requirements must be met to be eligible to request CPT:

  • You must be in valid F-1 status at the time of the CPT authorization request and must maintain F-1 status throughout your CPT term. 
  • You must be in good standing academically and not on probation or academically deficient.
  • You must have been lawfully enrolled in an academic program on a full-time basis for one full academic year, either at Missouri S&T or in another USCIS-approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary in the United States.
  • CPT is available only while the student is in F-1 status and before completion of the student’s degree program.    
    • Degree completion for undergraduate and non-thesis master’s students is defined as having met the minimum course requirements for the degree as listed in the course catalog.  For example, as of 2021, a bachelor of science degree in an engineering field may require a minimum of 128 credit hours with specific requirements related to general education courses and degree specific courses, along with other requirements such as a minimum GPA.  A student who has met all these requirements would be considered to have completed their degree and would no longer be eligible for CPT.
    • Degree completion for thesis master and doctoral students is defined as having met minimum degree requirements as listed in the course catalog, in addition to any additional course and/or research requirements necessary to satisfactorily complete their thesis or dissertation. When requesting CPT, the course(s) related to a student’s CPT experience must be included on the student’s Form 1A/5A on file with Graduate Studies and must show as an incomplete requirement. Students should contact their Graduate Studies Advisor to determine if any Form 1A/5A updates are needed prior to submitting an application for CPT. Thesis master and doctoral students who have successfully defended their thesis or dissertation are no longer eligible for CPT, but may be eligible to apply for OPT.

Students meeting criteria below are not eligible for CPT:

  • F-1 students in language training programs, such as Missouri S&T’s Applied Language Institute, or other independent language training programs
  • Undergraduate students who have not selected their major area of study (cannot be undecided or multi-disciplinary studies)
  • Students who have been approved for a program extension 

Employment Requirements

  • The practical training position must be directly related to your major area of study and must be commensurate with your degree level
  • The training must be “an integral part of an established curriculum”. This requires documentation to show the work experience meets at least one of the following criteria:
    • Required of all students in the degree program
    • Required for a specific track or course
    • Required before completing an educational objective
  • The position must be a paid position (not a volunteer position)
  • Your offer letter must include:
    • Company name
    • Start and end dates of employment
    • Designation of full-time or part-time and number of working hours per week
    • Wage / salary information (all co-ops and internships / CPT must be paid)
    • Physical work address
    • Position title
    • Job description and position responsibilities
    • How the practical training relates to the student’s major field of study
  • CPT authorization is employer and date specific.
  • Your academic department (academic advisor, program advisor, faculty advisor, and/or department chair) must review your offer letter, give approval, and confirm the position is integral to your major and program curriculum. 
  • The CPT start date may be no earlier than the day after the end of final exams of the previous semester and no later than the last day to enroll for the semester CPT is requested. 
  • The CPT end date may be no later than the day before the next semester begins or, if it is your final semester, the date you complete your degree program.  The completion date is important because your CPT and employment must end on or before your completion date. 

    How to Determine Your Completion Date

Enrollment Requirements

Regulations require the training to be “an integral part of an established curriculum” and that the student maintain full-time enrollment while on CPT.

"In practical terms, 'integral part of an established curriculum' means an opportunity must be required by the curriculum or, if not required, the student must receive credit for the training."

"F-1 students are required to maintain status (status includes enrolling in a full course of study) while completing CPT.”

All students authorized for CPT must enroll in an academic course for at least one credit hour related to the student’s CPT.    The student must be enrolled in and complete the course during the academic term during which the CPT will occur (fall, spring, summer).

Each student should discuss with their academic or program advisor the course(s) most appropriate for the student’s situation, the academic outcomes required for successful completion of the coursework, and credit hours to be earned.

The course must include oversight of the student throughout the semester. This includes regular contact throughout the semester.  

Courses that do not require an internship or co-op to complete the course or to receive course credit will not be eligible for CPT. Each course must be for a minimum of one credit hour.

To maintain status, you are required to make normal progress toward completing your course of studies. This applies even during CPT.  

Students are required to maintain full course enrollment during fall and spring semesters. In most cases, summer is not a required enrollment period, so students would not be required to maintain full-time enrollment. Students who have been enrolled in their current degree program for less than one full academic year or who have attended Missouri S&T for less than one full academic year should meet with their international student advisor to discuss whether full-time enrollment is required during the summer semester.

No more than the equivalent of one on-line/distance education class or three credits of on-line/distance coursework per semester may count toward the full course of study requirement. 

Requesting CPT Authorization

Applications for CPT during the summer and fall semesters are accepted by International Affairs beginning on the last day to drop a course for the spring semester.  Applications for CPT for the spring semester are accepted by International Affairs beginning the last day to drop a course for the fall semester. 

CPT authorization is granted for one academic term at a time (fall, spring, summer), regardless of whether the CPT is part-time or full-time.    The dates between semesters may be combined with fall, spring, or summer terms.   Requests to include the dates between semesters may be submitted along with the student’s initial request or submitted as a separate request. 

Students should begin the CPT request process a minimum of 30 days prior to the requested CPT start date.   Each student is responsible for securing signatures from the academic department and Graduate Studies (graduate students only). 

Only one type of CPT and one academic term may be requested on each request.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1:  Familiarize yourself with CPT requirements and restrictions

You should review the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Guidance, CPT Request Form, and this document before you start looking for a qualifying curricular practical training opportunity.

Step 2:  Find a qualifying curricular practical training opportunity and get an offer

Interested in finding a curricular practical training opportunity?  The Career Opportunities and Employer Relations (COER) team is here to help you!

  • Sign up for Handshake and search its database for jobs
  • Attend the career fair
  • Meet with your student career advisor
Step 3:  Request an offer letter that meets the CPT requirements

Congratulations on getting an offer for curricular practical training from an employer!  Your next step is to get an offer letter that meets the requirements below.

The offer letter must be on company letterhead and include the following:

  • Company name
  • Start and end dates of employment
  • Designation of full-time or part-time and number of working hours per week
  • Wage / salary information (all co-ops and internships / CPT must be paid)
  • Physical work address
  • Position title
  • Job description and position responsibilities
  • How the practical training relates to the student’s major field of study
Step 4:  Complete the student, advisor and course instructor sections of the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Request Form, and get the required signatures from your advisor, department chair, course instructor, and Graduate Studies (graduate students only)

The form includes a section to be completed by the student.    It is important that you include detailed information on the form that explains how the curricular practical training experience is integral to your degree and how the course you are taking will show an academic outcome that can only be achieved through CPT.    Gaining working experience alone is not sufficient reason to support a CPT request.

Your academic department may require you to obtain additional signatures on the CPT Request Form, such as from the Graduate Coordinator for your program.  If you are currently employed by your department as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) or Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), please discuss with your academic advisor how your GA position will be affected by your CPT employment.  There are specific enrollment requirements and weekly hours worked obligations for students with a GA position that may make it difficult to also accept CPT employment.  We recommend that you find out in advance what your department’s rule is regarding internship/Co-Op while holding a GA position before proceeding with the CPT Request Form.  You may also be asked by your Graduate Studies Advisor to update your Form 1a or 5a before they will sign your CPT Request Form.  Please allow extra time for these types of delays when estimating how quickly your CPT Request Form will be processed and approved.

Once you have completed the student section, share the form and your offer letter with your academic advisor, program advisor, faculty advisor, department chair and course instructor.  Please request they complete their section(s) and sign the form.  If you are a graduate student, approval is also required from Graduate Studies.   

Students wishing to extend CPT past the end date listed on page 2 of the I-20 or wishing to request CPT authorization for a new employer must complete the request process again.  Any student who has not received the updated I-20 with approval should stop working on or before the end date listed on page 2 of the I-20.   Working past the end date or for an employer other than listed on the I-20 is a violation of F-1 visa status.

Step 5:  Submit form and supporting documents to International Affairs

Once both the student and academic approval sections are complete, submit the completed form,  offer letter, and job description to International Affairs in 103 Norwood Hall or by email to ia@mst.edu.    

Step 6:   Co-op registration

Complete the co-op registration process in Handshake.

Step 7:  Enroll in the course required for your CPT

All students authorized for CPT must enroll in an academic course for at least one credit hour related to the student’s CPT.    The student must be enrolled in and complete the course during the academic term during which the CPT will occur (fall, spring, summer).   Courses that do not require an internship or co-op to complete the course or to receive course credit do not meet CPT course requirements. You must be registered for the appropriate course before the I-20 with CPT authorization will be created.

  • Undergraduate students will automatically be enrolled in the 2002/3002 course by COER/Registrar’s Office after you have completed the co-op registration process with COER.
  • Graduate students should enroll in the course(s) selected in agreement with your advisor.   If you will be enrolling in a special problems course, your academic department and advisor will need to open a course section under the advisor for your enrollment.  Special problems courses are specific to the instructor and you need permission from the course instructor before enrollment.    
Step 8:  Processing by International Affairs

Processing by International Affairs will include the following steps:

  • International Affairs will review the submitted form and supporting documents. 
  • If all documents are complete and meet the requirements, IA will forward the documents to COER for review and approval.
  • COER approves and returns the documents to IA
  • Once IA receives approval from COER, your I-20 will be updated to include authorization for CPT on page 2.
    PLEASE ALLOW A MINIMUM OF TEN BUSINESS DAYS AFTER RECEIPT OF APPROVAL FROM COER FOR PROCESSING.
  • IA will notify you by email to your Missouri S&T email address when your new I-20 is available for pick up in 103 Norwood Hall.

Approval for CPT is not complete until you have received an I-20 with the approval listed on page 2.

Step 9:  Your employment

Once page 2 of your I-20 has been updated to list your CPT approval, the CPT authorization process is complete, and you have received the necessary approval required to begin your training.  CPT approval is employer and date specific.   You may work only for the employer listed on your I-20 and for the dates of authorization listed on the I-20 and for the hours authorized (part-time or full-time). 

Working outside of the dates listed on page 2 of your I-20, for an employer different than listed on page 2 of your I-20, or for different hours (full-time/part-time) than listed on page 2 of your I-20 is a violation of your F visa status.  

Step 10:  Maintain your status during CPT

You must continue to maintain valid F-1 status while on CPT.   This includes:

  • Meeting full-time enrollment requirements
  • Updating/maintaining your local address in Joe’SS to list the physical address where you live within ten days of any change
  • Notifying International Affairs and COER of any change in employment
  • Working only during the CPT approved dates, for the employer listed on your I-20, and for the hours authorized (part-time or full-time)

You have sole responsibility to ensure compliance with any limits on CPT and to monitor your eligibility for OPT.  Missouri S&T is not responsible for monitoring full-time CPT duration or OPT eligibility.  A student exceeding 12 months of full-time CPT per level will do so at their own risk for potential future benefits.  Each student is responsible for maintaining valid F visa status.

Important Considerations

  • Your I-20 end date may not be extended if you have been approved for CPT at this academic level.  CPT cannot be approved following an extension.  Please carefully consider your ability to complete all degree requirements no later than the end date on your I-20.

  • Full-time CPT is limited to less than one year (364 days or less).  This time is calculated as a sum of all your full-time CPT approval and may not be consecutive.   F-1 students who exceed one year or more of full-time CPT are ineligible for OPT.  

Questions/Additional Information

For any questions related to CPT, contact International Enrollment at 573-341-4208 or ia@mst.edu or contact the international student advisor directly. A list of international student advisors and assigned student groups is available online at https://international.mst.edu/meettheteam/.

International students may meet with their international advisor during walk-in hours of 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm, Monday – Friday, in 106 Centennial Hall.