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International Student and Scholar Support

F-1 Employment: Curricular Practical Training

Immigration Policy on CPT

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Study in the States website says the following about CPT:

"Complex rules apply to CPT because the training opportunity must comply with both federal regulations and school policies regarding internships, experiential learning, etc." For more information, see the Student Exchange & Visitor Program's CPT Handout.

CPT training must meet all of the following stipulations: 
  • Training relates directly to the student’s major area of study.
  • Training is an integral part of the school’s established curriculum.
  • Designated school official (DSO) authorizes CPT in SEVIS, and the authorization prints on the student’s Form I-20.
  • Occurs before the student’s program end date on the Form I-20.
  • Authorization is for one specific employer and for a specific period of time.
  • Student must secure the training opportunity before CPT can be authorized.
  • CPT must be authorized before the student can begin work.
  • Student can have more than one CPT authorization at the same time.
  • One year of full-time CPT eliminates a student’s eligibility for OPT.

Institutional Procedure for CPT

To be authorized for CPT, you must meet the following federal and/or institutional requirements:

CPT Prerequisites
  1. You must have been fully enrolled as a student for at least one academic year (nine months or thirty weeks).
    • Exchange students do not qualify for Curricular Practical Training because they do not have this necessary prerequisite.
  2. Your graduation cannot be delayed due to your Curricular Practical Training.
  3. The proposed employment must be an integral part of your program of study. CPT must be very closely related to your academic work. Please see the options below to learn more about how CPT can work for you.
  4. You need to have an offer of employment.
  5. You need to determine which type of CPT you want to utilize (Course Required, Dissertation Research, Carolina Internship Program, or Degree Required)
Application Process for CPT
  1. Complete the respective CPT application (see the ISS Forms Library). There are four types of CPT available: Course Required, Dissertation Research, Carolina Internship Program, or Degree Required
  2. After completing the CPT application, submit it to
  3. Within 5 business days, you will obtain a new Form I-20 via email from an international student advisor. 
  4. After checking for accuracy on page 2, print and sign your new CPT I-20.
Rules to Follow While on CPT
  1. You must obtain your CPT I-20 before starting to work. Failing to obtain CPT approval before starting your CPT training experience will lead to immediate termination of your immigration record.
  2. During the fall and spring semesters, you can only work 20 hours per week total, on-campus and off-campus combined. The only exception to this is if you have an approved exemption from full-time enrollment from ISS.
  3. During Winter and Summer Breaks, you can work up to 40 hours per week total, on-campus and off-campus combined.
  4. Your CPT will only be authorized on a semester-by-semester basis. If your CPT will continue past the end of any given semester, you must contact ISS to secure an extension before continuing to work. Failing to do so will lead to immediate termination of your immigration record.

Types of Curricular Practical Training at USC:

You may be eligible for Course Requirement CPT if:
  • You have a mandatory internship course in your program.
  • You are enrolled in a credit-bearing elective that requires practical experience as part of the course.
  • The course in which you will be enrolled is during the same semester of your employment.
You may be eligible for Dissertation Research CPT if:
  • In order to write your dissertation, you need to collect data through an off-campus work experience.
  • You will be enrolled in dissertation prep hours for the entirety of your off-campus work experience (including summer, if applicable).
  • You are NOT in your final semester of study. (Dissertation prep CPT is not permitted during your final semester.)
You may be eligible for Carolina Internship Program CPT if:
  • You have set up your internship opportunity with one of the Experiential Educators in the Career Center
  • You must be registered for the Carolina Internship Program (CIP) or micro-internship  by the Add/Drop date of classes each semester.
  • Your employment opportunity is an internship opportunity (jobs which are not internships nor permanent positions qualify).
  • Your employment opportunity will be on site (not virtual)
  • You will work for at least 240 hours for part-time CIP CPT or 480 hours for full-time CIP CPT

You may be eligible for Degree Required CPT if you are enrolled in the following programs:

  • Graduate Music Program
  • Clinical Community Psychology
  • Cardiovascular Technology
  • Masters in Applied Behavioral Analysis

If you are enrolled in another program which requires the completion of a work experience in order to graduate from the program but does not have an internship or practicum course attached to the work experience, please contact an ISS advisor to discuss your options. This type of CPT is not available to students outside of previously approved degree programs and is based upon the programs of study that have been evaluated and approved as part of the University's I-17.

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