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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

As stated in the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations, F-1 students wishing to participate in an off-campus training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum must first obtain work authorization known as CPT. The training is defined as an alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school, and must be in the student's major field of study. You must obtain CPT authorization BEFORE you begin working.

Eligibility for CPT

  • You must have been maintaining F-1 status for at least:
    • Semester students: one academic year (2 semesters)
    • 12 Week Term students: 4 terms
  • Be a student in good academic standing
  • Training must be in student's major field of study
  • GPA requirements:
    • Undergraduates: 2.00
    • Graduates: 3.00
  • Students who change degree programs must complete one semester in the new program and receive a qualifying GPA before applying for CPT.
    • This includes; transfer students, Bachelors students who graduate and begin a graduate program and UMCP Masters students who begin a UMD PhD program.


  • Hours per week:
    • No more than 20 hours per week during the semester, including on campus work (part-time)
    • No maximum limit during school vacations (full-time)
    • Only part-time CPT in student's final term (including summer)
  • Location:
    • Students engaged in CPT for non-required or non-research courses are mainly limited to internships in the DC metro area during Fall/Spring semesters.
    • Students must be physically present in the US during the CPT experience. CPT cannot be authorized for remote work that the student will conduct from outside the US.
    • CPT can only be authorized for employers that have a physical US location (no P.O. Boxes)
  • CPT's effect on Optional Practical Training (OPT)
    • Students who participate in 11+ months of full-time CPT become ineligible to apply for OPT
  • Thesis/dissertation students in final term
    • CPT cannot be authorized past thesis/dissertation defense date. If CPT was originally authorized past defense date it will be shortened accordingly.
  • Deadlines and Changes
    • CPT authorizations are limited to once per semester; please consider your placements carefully before applying for your authorization. Changes will not be made once CPT is authorized. This includes extensions within the same semester.
    • Applications for CPT authorization are accepted on a rolling basis until the final date to receive a new CPT authorization as listed on the chart below. No new CPT authorizations for that term will be authorized to begin after that date.
    • Please see the chart below for a list of the earliest possible dates your employment can start and the last possible date your employment can end for that term:


Earliest start date

Latest end date

Final date to request and begin CPT authorization

Spring 2024

Jan 24, 2024

May 17, 2024 

Apr 1, 2024

Summer 2024

May 18, 2024

Aug 25, 2024

Aug 2, 2024

Fall 2024

Aug 26, 2024

Dec 17, 2024

Nov 1, 2024

Winter 2025

Dec 18, 2024

Jan 26, 2025

Jan 6, 2025

Application Procedure

  • Obtain an internship/co-op offer letter on official company letter head from an employer which includes all of the following information:

    • Specific start and end dates of the internship/co-op*
    • Number of hours per week
    • Address of the workplace (if your employer address is different than work site, please provide both addresses. No PO Box addresses)
    • Amount of compensation
    • Job description (specific job responsibilities)
    • The name of your supervisor during the internship/co-op
    • The specific term internship or co-op
    • If you are Masters thesis/Ph.D. student with no required course work left: a statement that the employer understands that this work will be incorporated as a part of your thesis/dissertation research.

    *Internship dates must be within the semester you are registered for the course associated with your CPT (see Step 2).You can find semester dates for each academic year here.

    Click here to see an example of an internship/co-op offer letter.

    Students are urged to review the CPT checklist to confirm all required documents are uploaded and all necessary details are included in the offer letter. Any student working remotely on CPT must have this confirmed in the offer letter or in supporting documentation, the address where you will work remotely must also be mentioned by the employer.

  • Register for an academic component (course) that ties the internship/co-op to your curriculum. To determine which academic component you should register for, please view this chart (pdf). Below are descriptions of the different options and required supporting documentation:
    • UNIV099/098 - Internship Seminar offered by the University Career Center (UCC)
      • Copy of the UNIV099 Learning Contract
    • ENCO099/098 - Engineering Co-op offered by Engineering Co-op & Career Services
      • Copy of the ENCO099 Learning Plan
    • BMGT 099/098 (Navigate to the bottom of the page and choose Business Master's Program Internship Seminar) - Internship Seminar (for Specialty Master’s Students in R.H. Smith School of Business Only)
      • Copy of the BMGT099 Curricular Practical Training Verification form (signed and dated by the student and the internship supervisor)
    • Internship course offered by department: Some departments offer their own internship seminars (ex: BMGT398T, HLTH785, COMM386)
      • Print out/make a copy of the course syllabus for your CPT application.
    • Independent study: A course in which a professor oversees your work experience.   
      You will need a letter from the professor explaining: 
      • Why the course is essential to your program of study
      • The relationship between the course and the internship/co-op
      • How your work will be evaluated
    • Research credits (799, 898, or 899): If you are a Master's thesis student taking only credits of 799 or a PhD student that has finished all required course work and/or advanced to candidacy (registered for 898 or 899), the internship can only be authorized if necessary for the completion of thesis/dissertation.​
      • Letter of support from academic advisor is needed. It must contain the following information: 
        • The subject of the thesis/dissertation & the relationship to the work 
          • ​​Please include specific details about what elements of the internship will be required for the completion of the dissertation. Examples could include, but are not limited to:
            • Will the student have access to data during this internship that will be an essential part of the dissertation?
            • Will the student be working with specific research methods or data collection methods that form an essential part of the dissertation?
            • Will the experiences from this internship be incorporated into specific chapter(s) of the student’s dissertation?
        • Explanation as to why this student would not be able to gain a similar experience from employment or resources available on campus
        • Recommended period of employment & number of hours per week
        • Statement confirming that “this employment experience is absolutely necessary for the completion of the thesis/dissertation”.​

If you are pursuing CPT in an optional term (Summer, Winter), please register for a full course of study in the required term immediately following your internship (Fall, Spring) before submitting your CPT authorization. If you do not require a full course of study to complete the program in that next required term, please register for all required courses and submit a request for part-time authorization on iTerp.

Submit a request in iTerp to obtain CPT authorization. Upload documentation and provide information in the CPT Request eform in iTerp, found under F-1 Student Services.  ISSS will process your request within 3 business days.  Please ensure that all information is complete!

 If it is approved, you will receive a new I-20 with your employment authorization printed on the second page. You do not have the authorization to begin working until you receive this I-20 showing the employment authorization on the second page.

Need more information? ISSS offers a workshop for F-1 international students on the process of applying for CPT. Please note that your attendance at this workshop is not required in order to apply for CPT. You may register for the workshop by visiting iTerp and clicking Session Sign Ups > CPT Workshop.

Special Situations Affecting Approval of CPT

CPT authorizations typically require one course registration per term in which the student is engaging in the internship. Most student situations will require a separate winter term registration if they are engaging in an internship over winter term.  
However, due to the condensed nature of the winter term, ISSS will agree to waive the requirement for student to register for a winter term internship course if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Student will be working for the same employer beginning in the Fall and continuing through Winter, or beginning in Winter and continuing through the duration of the Spring;
  • Student will be keeping the same number of hours per week for the duration of the internship; and
  • At the time of the CPT authorization application, student’s offer letter specifies the full start and end dates for the duration of the internship, including the employment that will occur during winter term.
  • Students that do not meet all three of these criteria should plan on registering for a winter term internship course in order to be authorized for CPT during the winter.

During the semester, F-1 students may not exceed a combined total of 20 hours of employment authorization per week. This combined total includes both on-campus and off-campus employment, such as CPT. If you are reducing the number of hours per week you will work or completely terminating your on-campus employment in order to participate in a CPT experience, we will need a letter on official University letterhead from your department’s payroll coordinator that contains the following information:

Hourly on-campus work

Graduate Assistantships

Reduction of hours only

  • Effective start date for the reduction of hourly work
  • New number of hours per week
  • Effective start date for the reduction in hours 
  • New number of hours per week 
  • Effective start date for the reduction of benefits associated with assistantship (tuition remission, health benefits) 
  • The new stipend amount that student will receive through the duration of the assistantship

Termination of on-campus employment

  • Effective date of termination of on-campus employment
  • Effective date of termination of graduate assistantship 
  • Effective date of termination of benefits associated with assistantship (tuition remission, health benefits)

Graduate students who are reducing or terminating an assistantship will  be required to show proof of liquid finances for up to one calendar year in order to update the estimated expenses on the I-20.  Please view acceptable sources of funding here.

Special Requests for Full-time CPT During the Semester for Required Research Experiences (799/898/899 only)

The F-1 regulations specify that all F-1 students, whether or not they are engaged in thesis/dissertation research, are restricted to engaging in part-time CPT only (20 hours per week or less) while school is in session. The ISSS office will only consider an exception to permit full-time CPT authorization on a case-by-case basis for students engaging in a required research experience (799/898/899).  Circumstances must be truly exceptional to prohibit the student from engaging in part-time work during the internship.

In addition to the required application information, students asking for an exception to the part-time restriction during the semester should prepare the documentation listed below and submit it with all other CPT documentation at the time of application:

  • Statement from internship employer explaining the exceptional circumstances that would prohibit the student from engaging in part-time (20 hours per week or less) employment during the semester
  • For students who currently hold an assistantship or on-campus employment only: You will not be permitted to be employed on campus concurrently if you are requesting an exception to participate in full-time CPT during the semester. If you currently have an assistantship or on-campus employment, please submit:
    • A letter from your department’s payroll coordinator detailing the termination of your on-campus employment (see chart in “Ending on-campus employment to participate in CPT” above); and
    • Proof of liquid finances for up to one calendar year (see “Ending on-campus employment to participate in CPT” above)

NOTE: Exceptions are considered on a case-by-case basis, and having all of the above documentation does not in any way guarantee that the student will be approved for the exception.  Please allow 1-2 weeks for the ISSS staff to consider your request for an exception.

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