Office of International Services

Curricular Practical Training

 

ELIGIBILITY FOR CPT

What is CPT?

CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training and is the name of the work authorization available to F-1 students in good status and good academic standing to engage in an off-campus internship.

What is Co-op?

Co-op is an abbreviation of “Cooperative Education”. Co-op is a part of the Career Development Center and facilitates students obtaining valuable work experiences as part of their academic program. The Co-op staff not only helps students in their search and preparation, but also establishes and maintains relationships with employers so that they will continue to recruit NC State students for their job openings.

Does participation in CPT affect my eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

It can. If you engage in more than 11 months and 29 days of full time CPT, you become ineligible for OPT. Please note that this only applies to full time CPT, not part time CPT.

How does the “11 months, 29 days rule” of CPT accrual work exactly?

You may work up to 11 months and 29 days on FULL TIME CPT. If you work more than that, you will lose your eligibility for the OPT benefit. Please note that part time CPT is not part of this accrual. You may engage in part time CPT as needed for your degree program. Part time CPT does not influence your eligibility for OPT.

What is the difference between CPT and pre-completion OPT?

CPT and pre-completion OPT are both work authorization which you can use before you finish your degree program. CPT can only be used if your position is a required part of your degree program or integral to your thesis or dissertation research. Pre-completion OPT can  be used for a job which is directly related to your field of study, but is not necessarily a requirement for your degree program. (Please note that OPT is adjudicated by USCIS and the application time is up to 90 days).

Do I need a job offer to apply for CPT?

Yes.

What qualifications must my job meet to be an eligible position under Co-op and CPT?

It must be a temporary position, it must be related to your field of study and the number of hours must match your eligibility during a particular semester. The start and end date of the position must coincide with the academic semester.

I have met all of my degree requirements in the Fall semester, but I will not receive my actual degree certificate until the end of the Spring semester. Can I engage in CPT in the Spring semester?

As soon as you have met all of your degree requirements, your F-1 student status ends. You are no longer eligible to continue enrollment and are no longer eligible for CPT. We would recommend that you apply for OPT if you would like to work for some time after you are done with your degree program.

I am a PhD student and my defense is scheduled for February 1st. According to the university’s rules I have to register for the entire Spring semester to be able to complete my defense. Can I engage in CPT during this final semester?

No. CPT must be a required part of your degree program or integral to your thesis or dissertation research. So, if your defense is scheduled for February 1st, you do not need CPT as part of your degree program. We recommend that you apply for OPT instead.

I changed my major effective in the Spring semester. I would also like to engage in CPT in the Spring semester. Am I eligible?

No, you have to have been a full time student in your major for at least 1 semester before being able to use that major to base your CPT application on.

Can I request CPT without the recommendation and approval of my academic advisor?

No, CPT is an academic work authorization and we therefore require that your academic advisor review and approve your proposed internship.

Can I request CPT without my employer signing the CPT Supplemental Form for Employers?

No, the CPT Supplemental Form for Employers must be completed and submitted to OIS at the time the CPT request is submitted.

 

CPT APPLICATION PROCESS

When should I apply for CPT?

We recommend that you apply for CPT as early as possible. For each given semester, we start accepting applications as soon as enrollment for the consecutive semester opens. Please refer to the CPT website for specific dates each semester.

How much time will I need to complete the CPT application process?

Please allow for 2 weeks. (Please note: most students engage in their internship in the summer semester, so OIS will be busier in the Spring semester by processing hundreds of requests. We ask that you request CPT as early as possible).

How should I apply for CPT?

Please start by completing the online CPT Information Session (click here). We will discuss CPT, eligibility requirements and go over the application process with you.

Can I request CPT without the recommendation and approval of my academic advisor?

No, CPT is an academic work authorization and we therefore require that your academic advisor review and approve your proposed internship.

Can I request CPT without my employer signing the CPT Supplemental Form for Employers?

No, the CPT Supplemental Form for Employers must be completed and submitted to OIS at the time the CPT request is submitted.

If I am authorized for part time CPT, can I switch half way through my internship to full time?

No. Your CPT authorization is issued for one semester and your course registration is adjusted as a result. You cannot switch during your internship, because your course registration cannot be changed at that time. Your must maintain full time enrollment.

What details must my job offer letter contain?

Your job title, job description, your salary, the number of hours you will work per week and your exact work location.

Can I apply for multiple semesters of CPT at once?

No. CPT is authorized on a semester by semester basis. Each semester OIS must determine your academic standing and your eligibility for CPT.

Can I request CPT if my GPA is below the requirement (3.0 for graduate students, 2.5 for undergraduate students)?

No, your GPA must meet the minimum requirement for CPT.

What course should I register for during my CPT semester?

Your Co-op Coordinator will advise you on which COP course to take during your CPT semester. Graduate students will register for COP 500 if they are working full time (more than 20 hrs /week) or COP 501 if they are working part time (20 hrs/week or less).

 

CPT WORK AUTHORIZATION

How many hours per week constitutes part time employment?

Part time employment is employment for up to 20 hours per week.

Can I work more than 40 hours per week if I am authorized for full time CPT?

Yes, full time employment is defined by USCIS as employment for 20 hours per week or more. (Even though USCIS does not restrict you from working more than 40 hours, labor laws can, so please check with your employer to make sure you are in compliance).

When can I start working on CPT?

As soon as you have received your new I-20 with CPT work authorization from OIS and the CPT start date on page 3 of your I-20 has passed.

Can I work 20 hours per week on my graduate assistantship and 20 hours per week on CPT during the Spring or Fall semester?

No, during the regular academic semester, you are entitled to 20 hours per week of employment in addition to your studies. These 20 hours can be either CPT or on-campus employment or a combination of both, but the employment cannot exceed 20 hours per week. (Note: If you are engaging in full time CPT as a required part of your degree program during a semester, you cannot work on-campus in addition to your full time off-campus employment).

Can I work on-campus and off-campus at the same time during the summer semester?

The summer semester is considered your vacation semester (provided you are enrolled for the Fall semester and the summer is not your final semester). During your vacation semester, you may work as many hours as you like (provided you do not violate any labor laws).

How do I get my S (Satisfactory) grade for the COP course?

In order to get your grade posted for the COP course, you must submit a post-work report with your adviser’s signature (or DGP) to the Co-op Office. The post-work report is a two-page report that documents your experience. More information about the post-work report can be found at http://www.ncsu.edu/co-op_ed/students/post-work/