Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an F-1 benefit that allows eligible students with proper authorization from International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) to participate in employment or internship opportunities that are directly related and integral to the major field of study listed on their I-20.

CPT is meant to enhance a student’s academic program by giving them practical work experience in their field of study. It is not intended for regular, ongoing employment. Since CPT requires defined academic objectives agreed upon by the student and their department/course instructor prior to the start of the internship or employment, it is approved on a semester-by-semester basis. CPT cannot be authorized after a student graduates.

Caution: Students must obtain an updated I-20 with CPT authorization on page 2 BEFORE beginning their internship or employment. CPT requests must first be reviewed and approved by the academic department and then by ISSS. This takes time. Students should submit their CPT request through myIO at least 3 weeks before their requested internship start date. CPT can NEVER be back-dated.

Eligibility for CPT

To be eligible for CPT, the student must:

  • Be in valid F-1 status.
  • Be in good standing with the university.
  • Have an employment/internship offer in a position directly related to their UT Austin major.
  • Have completed two consecutive long semesters prior to the requested employment start date.
    • Most F-1 students will need to have completed at least two long semesters beginning from the program start date on their most recent valid I-20.
    • Students approved for a change of status via application to USCIS within the United States can count semesters spent studying full-time prior to the change of status approval towards the two-semester requirement.
    • Students who transferred their SEVIS record to UT Austin can count semesters spent studying full-time prior to the transfer towards the two-semester requirement.
    • Exception to the two-semester rule: graduate students enrolled in a program that requires immediate participation in an internship are eligible to apply for CPT in their first semester.

Additionally, sponsored students who utilize third-party billing services through Texas Global must first obtain written approval from their program sponsor prior to submitting a CPT request.

To be eligible for CPT, the employment / internship must:

  • Be directly related to the major field of study listed on the student’s I-20.
  • Be an integral part of the student’s academic program. This means the employment must meet ONE of the requirements below:
    • Course Completion CPT: The employment must be a required component for a course the student enrolls in. The department must confirm that they approve this course enrollment for CPT. Possible courses:
      • Course offered by the academic department. Generally, acceptable courses contain words such as the following in the course title: internship, practicum, independent study.
      • Thesis/Dissertation course offered by the academic department. Such a course is only acceptable for CPT purposes if the internship work is required for the completion of the thesis or dissertation.
      • EXP 000/080 course offered by Texas Career Engagement. The student is responsible for registering for and completing the course, and the department must confirm that they approve of the student taking this course for CPT purposes.
    • Degree requirement CPT: The employment must be a required component of the degree program, meaning ALL students in the program must complete an internship. Note: there are only a few degree programs that fall in this category.

Unpaid Internships and CPT

Even if the internship is unpaid, ISSS strongly recommends obtaining CPT authorization prior to beginning the internship. This is because even unpaid internships may meet the definition of “employment.” Engaging in such an internship without CPT would be considered unauthorized employment, which is a violation of status that could lead to the termination of the student’s SEVIS record and/or the denial of future U.S. visas or immigration benefits.

Here are a few factors that could classify an internship as “employment,” even if it is unpaid:

  • The position is normally paid, but an exception is being made for the F-1 student to do it without pay.
  • There is any form of compensation (not limited to wages).
  • The internship provider is benefiting from the student’s labor.

Part-Time and Full-Time CPT

Students who meet the CPT eligibility criteria explained above can request part-time or full-time CPT during any semester of their program.

Part-time CPT is defined as up to 20 hours per week. Part-time CPT can never exceed 20 hours per week in any given week.

Full-time CPT is defined as over 20 hours per week. There is no regulatory limit on how many hours per week a student can work on full-time CPT.

CPT Impact on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Post-completion Optional Practical Training is an F-1 benefit that allows students to work in the U.S. in their major field of study for up to one year after graduation.

Students who accrue 12 months of full-time CPT become ineligible for OPT. To safely preserve eligibility for OPT, ISSS recommends that students not exceed330 days of full-time CPT.

No amount of part-time CPT will remove eligibility for Post-completion OPT. However, students should keep in mind that high CPT usage, even part-time, may invite extra scrutiny on applications for F-1 benefits such as post-completion OPT or on applications for other U.S. immigration benefits (e.g., H-1B visas). Students should keep detailed records of the academic work they did for their CPT experiences in case they receive any CPT-related Requests for Evidence (RFEs) for future applications to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

CPT Course Enrollment and Start and End Dates

CPT is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis. CPT authorization follows the dates of the official UT Austin academic calendar. Internships spanning two semesters will require two separate CPT authorizations (one for each semester).

Most CPTs (with the exception of Degree Requirement CPT) require course enrollment. The chart below shows enrollment requirements as well as possible start and end dates for each semester of CPT participation.

If you wish to begin your work experience after completing semester final requirements, but before the official graduation date, obtain a letter from your academic or graduate advisor indicating the date that you will complete your semester requirements (last final exam/term paper). Only students who have completed one full academic year are eligible for this benefit. One full academic year includes two full semesters up to and including the graduation date of the second semester. CPT cannot begin prior to the graduation date of the student's second semester of study. 

Semester of Internship

Semester of required enrollment

(Course Completion CPT)

Earliest Possible CPT Authorization Start Date

(Course Completion CPT and Degree Requirement CPT)

Latest Possible CPT Authorization End Date
SpringSpringDay after immediately preceding fall graduation date

Students in their final semester: Spring graduation date.

All other students: May Term end date


Summer or (if department allows) Fall

(If taking EXP 000/080, course must be taken in summer)

Day after immediately preceding spring graduation date

If course enrollment is in summer: official summer graduation date

If course enrollment is in fall or if doing Degree Requirement CPT: day before fall instruction begins

FallFallDay after immediately preceding summer graduation date

Students in their final semester: Fall graduation date

All other students: Winter term end date

How To Apply for CPT

Step 1: Consult your Academic Advisor 

Consult your academic advisor about the academic basis of your CPT—whether you will pursue Course Completion CPT or Degree Requirement CPT. Very few degree programs at UT Austin require the completion of an internship, so most students will need Course Completion CPT. If you will engage in Course Completion CPT, determine which course you will take and in which semester.

Step 2: Ask Your Employer to Complete the Employment Verification Form

Once you obtain an employment offer, ask your employer to complete the Employment Verification Form. (For unpaid internships/training, ask the organization providing the training opportunity to complete the Unpaid Training/Internship Verification Form.)

To avoid CPT delays or denials, we strongly recommend that you use our Employment Verification Form instead of an offer letter. If for any reason your employer cannot complete our form, then request a letter from them - printed on company letterhead - with ALL the following information (missing information will lead to CPT delays or denials):

  • Your full name
  • Your UT EID (optional, but highly recommended)
  • The employer/company name
  • Whether you will be working on-site or remotely
  • The physical work site address where you will conduct your job (if you will be working remotely, then provide the site address where your supervisor works)
  • Your specific start date (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • Your specific end date (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • Your job title
  • A brief job description
  • Maximum number of hours you will work per week (Note: If you select 20 or fewer hours, you will be authorized for "part-time" CPT and will not be authorized to exceed 20 hours of work in any week.)
  • Your supervisor's full name, job title, and signature

Step 3: Submit your CPT request through myIO

Once you have your completed Employment Verification Form (preferred) or employment letter, log into myIO > F-1 Practical Training > CPT Request. Fill out and submit the form.

If your internship will span two semesters, you must submit a separate request for each semester you will be working.

Step 4: Allow sufficient time for approval

  • Once you submit your CPT request, it will be routed to your department for approval.
  • Once your department approves your request, it will be routed to ISSS.
  • ISSS will take 10 business days to review your request and either approve it or follow up with you if additional information or documentation is needed.

Please allow a minimum of 3 weeks for CPT approval. Requests starting within 3 weeks will automatically be prioritized. However, such requests may not be authorized by your proposed start date if there are problems with the CPT request (e.g., the employment letter is missing required information) To avoid this, be sure to submit your CPT request at least 3 weeks in advance of your proposed start date.

Step 5: Only begin working once you have your CPT I-20

After your CPT has been approved by ISSS, you will receive a new I-20. Page 2 of the I-20 will list your CPT employer and your approved CPT dates. You can ONLY begin working for the employer listed on page 2 when you have received your CPT I-20 and the approved CPT start date has been reached.