Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of work authorization for F-1 students to participate in paid positions off-campus. It is defined as any required or optional internship that is an integral part of the established curriculum for a program of study. Only internships that are directly related to the course curriculum qualify as CPT and can be either an optional or required part of the program. Unpaid or volunteer positions do not require work authorization.

Note: As of Spring 2016, unpaid internships at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) do not require CPT authorization.

View most recent CPT webinar recording here!

CPT Eligibility

  • Student must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year
  • EAP Reciprocity Students are NOT eligible for CPT.

NOTE: You may count the time spent in a study abroad program toward the academic year requirement as long as time spent outside the USA was not more than 5 months. In addition, you may use time spent in another immigration status (e.g. E-2, H-4, etc…) to fulfill the academic year requirement.

CPT Requirements

  • The training must be an integral part of the curriculum. Your UCSD major department must sign the CPT Request Form certifying that you will be getting academic credit for the employment.  Not all majors at UCSD offer courses that meet the CPT eligibility requirements. Students should check with their UCSD major department for more information.
  • CPT is only authorized during a course of study. It cannot be used after completing your program.
  • The training must be authorized for a specific job at a specific company.
  • Students MUST be enrolled as a full-time student during the academic year while participating on CPT or have an authorized Reduced Courseload form.
  • Dates of employment must be within the dates of the quarter. Students who want to continue their employment during the academic break must request a separate authorization for the dates during the break.  Full time employment may be possible during breaks. Summer session CPT employment dates must be between the end of Spring quarter and the beginning of Fall quarter.
  • Employment is limited to part-time (20 hours or less) during each academic quarter. Full-time employment is allowed during Summer session and graduate students who want to do full-time employment during the academic year must have advanced to candidacy.
  • There is no limit on the amount of time used for CPT. However, students who participate in full-time CPT for one year or more will NOT be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT).  Participation in part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.

Some ways CPT can be used:

  1. Course Credit Requirement: CPT may be authorized for students who are registered in a course offered through their major department or the Academic Internship Program (AIP) for which employment is a requirement of the course. Authorization is granted on a quarter-by-quarter basis and cannot exceed the dates of the term in which the employment will occur. Extensions of authorization are possible. The following courses are eligible:
    1. Undergraduate course 191, 197, 198 or 199
    2. AIP course 197
    3. Graduate course 298, 299, 497
  2. Cooperative Education Agreement: CPT may be authorized when an internship is part of an agreement between a UCSD academic department, an employer, and a graduate student during the summer. Students who participate in summer cooperative internships must intend to continue at UCSD during the following Fall quarter and submit a Post-Internship Report no later than the first day of Fall quarter.

Application Requirements

There is no specific application period for CPT, but students must allow enough time to complete the application process. The entire process normally takes 3-4 weeks. The employment may not begin until the training has been authorized. Under no circumstances will CPT be backdated to include unauthorized work done before it was authorized.

To begin the process, meet with your Faculty/Department Advisor to complete the CPT Request Form. Undergraduate students should meet with their major advisor and graduate students should meet with their faculty advisor. Your advisor must determine whether your internship meets the requirements for CPT. Your training MUST be one of the following:

  • Course Credit Requirement
    • Register for the course during the quarter of your internship. Submit a copy of your academic history in TritonLink ( to verify enrollment.
  • Cooperative Education Agreement between your Department and your Employer
    (Only for graduate students participating in internships during the summer academic break).
    • Review the Cooperative Education Agreement Form with your advisor to discuss the conditions of the agreement. Submit the Cooperative Education Agreement Form with signatures from your department and employer.

SPECIAL NOTE: Graduate students, who work on-campus (i.e. TA, GSR, etc.) and participate on CPT for a combined total of more than 20 hours per week, may not be eligible to receive funding from their department to pay for tuition and fees. Please meet with your Graduate Coordinator to discuss the UCSD employment policy and how it may affect your situation.

Application Process

All CPT applications must be submitted to the UCSD International Center. Please allow 10-15 working days to process the application. To apply, you will need to:

□    Attend a CPT Information Session: F-1 Employment Before Graduation

□    Obtain a job offer letter from the company

□    Complete the CPT Request Form

  • Undergraduate Students: Ask your major department or college Academic Advisor
  • Graduate Students: Ask your Department/Faculty Advisor

□    Enroll in the appropriate course, if necessary

□   Gather all required documents

□    Submit your complete CPT application package to the International Center. The package should include:

  • Completed CPT Request Form
  • Completed Original job offer letter from company
  • Copy of complete Academic History from TritonLink
  • Copy of the biographical information page of your passport
  • Copy of your current I-20
  • Copy of your I-94 (both the front and the back)
  • Completed Cooperative Education/Internship Agreement (For graduate students applying for CPT authorization during summer session only. Graduate students participating in summer cooperative education/internships must include enrollment verification for the following Fall quarter.)

After 10-15 working days, the International Center will contact you via phone or e-mail. At that time, you can meet pick-up your documents and new I-20. You CANNOT work until you receive the new I-20 that includes the valid CPT training period.

CPT Approval

To participate in CPT, you must receive work authorization from the UCSD International Center. CPT does not require an application to the USCIS or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The UCSD International Center will give you a new I-20 that includes the valid CPT training period.

Changes to Employer or Dates of Employment

Any changes in the CPT authorization require a new appointment with the International Student Advisor. For example, if your employer or dates of employment change, please meet with the International Student Advisor immediately. Changes to the employer will also require a new letter from the department advisor and a new appointment with the International Student Advisor.

Renewal of CPT Authorization

CPT must be authorized every quarter. CPT renewals require a new CPT application package.

Before your current CPT authorization expires, allow yourself enough time to:

  • Obtain an updated job offer letter from the company
  • Obtain an updated Request form signed by the department advisors
  • Enroll in the appropriate course

Do not procrastinate! CPT cannot be backdated.

Graduate Students: Post-Cooperative Education Internship Training Report

Social Security & Taxes

Social Security Number

All persons must have a Social Security number to be employed in the US. This is not the Campus ID number assigned by UCSD. To apply for a Social Security number, you will need to present a valid passport, I-94, I-20, job offer letter from your employer, and an enrollment verification letter from the International Center to any local Social Security office. The nearest offices are located in Kearny Mesa or downtown San Diego. Visit to find the nearest Social Security office to you.


Students in F-1 status are exempt from Social Security tax (FICA), however they are generally subject to federal and state income taxes. Tax forms are available from February through April of each year. Check the Internal Revenue Service website at for federal tax information and the CA Franchise Tax Board at for California tax information.

The International Center also provides tax support information from February through April of each year.

Contact Us

With questions regarding CPT, please e-mail Please allow for 2-5 business days (not including weekends) for an advisor to review your message and respond.