Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Updated 1/19/2021

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of work authorization that allows F-1 international students to participate in paid off-campus academic internships during their degree program. The purpose of CPT is academic, not just for employment purposes, and the internship must be considered an integral part of a student’s degree program.


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Eligibility Requirements

Valid F-1 Student Status
  • Must have properly maintained F-1 status each semester.
  • Must be full-time enrolled for the semester they wish to pursue the CPT. The only exception to this is during student’s final semester. Refer to the “Hours of Employment” section for details. Students who were granted CPT but subsequently drop below the full course load will need to stop working immediately and notify OIS of this change.
  • During USC’s period of online instruction due to COVID-19, students are allowed to work remotely at home in the U.S. or abroad if the employer requests it.
  • Students must have been in F-1 student status for at least one academic year in a degree-seeking program before they can apply for CPT. There are two exceptions to this regulation.
    1. Students who attended another school in the U.S. as an F-1 student and transferred their SEVIS record to USC. These students must submit copies of their previous school’s I-20 and official transcripts to ois@usc.edu for review.
      • Students cannot use CPT as a way to continue OPT/STEM OPT employment that has since ended. CPT must be an integral part of the new degree program’s established curriculum. Therefore, students who transfer to USC upon completion of OPT/STEM OPT or during a period of OPT/STEM OPT at previous school must wait at least one semester to apply for CPT at USC.
    2. Students who are enrolled in degree programs that require an internship or practicum hours in their first year to fulfill degree requirements and is stated as such in the USC Catalogue. Students in the following master’s degree programs DO NOT need to fulfill the one academic year requirement in order to apply for CPT (list subject to change without prior notice):
Annenberg: Global Communication Marshall: Global Supply Chain Management
Cinematic Arts: Peter Stark Program Price: Urban and Regional Planning
Dornsife: Applied Behavior Analysis Price: Health Administration
Dornsife: Applied Psychology Price: Public Administration
Keck: Physical Therapy Suzanne Dworak-Peck: Social Work
Marshall: Business Analytics Viterbi/Keck: Wireless Health Technology
Marshall: Finance
Must have internship offer
  • Students must have a specific job/internship offer.
  • Job must be related to student’s major.
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Internship Course Registration

  • Students must register for an internship course or a class that requires an internship at USC during the semester they wish to do CPT. Successful completion of the course is required to be considered for future CPT authorizations.
  • Students who are enrolled in degree programs that require an internship or practicum hours to fulfill degree requirements (must be stated as such in the USC Catalogue) are exempt from registering in an internship course for CPT purposes. Students in the following master’s degree programs DO NOT need to register for an internship course in order to apply for CPT (list subject to change without prior notice).:
    Cinematic Arts: Peter Stark Program Price: Health Administration
    Keck: Physical Therapy Price: Public Administration
    Price: Urban and Regional Planning Ostrow: Advanced Pediatric Dentistry
  • Selecting the appropriate internship course
Please note:
  • USC Language Academy students are not eligible for CPT.
  • If the internship is an unpaid or volunteer position, CPT is not required. Students CANNOT accept any kind of compensation for work performed in an unpaid internship. Please check with the employer to ensure labor laws are not being violated with this type of arrangement.
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Hours of Employment

  • During Fall and Spring semesters
    • Students may work part-time (up to 20 hours per week).
      • Non-Ph.D. students can work part-time on campus and part-time on CPT simultaneously only if the total combined hours worked does not exceed 20 hours per week.
        • Example: A student that works 15 hours per week on campus is limited to 5 hours per week on CPT.
      • Ph.D. students who have a 50% RA/TA/GA/fellowship are not eligible for CPT during fall and spring semesters.
    • Full-time (20+ hours per week) CPT may be authorized for Ph.D. or master’s students who are registered in only thesis or dissertation units (such as 594/794).
  • During Summer sessions
    • Students may work full-time.
    • Students may be registered for internship unit(s) only and still be able to maintain student status. The Reduced Course Load (RCL) request form is not required in this case.
  • During final semester
    • Students can work full-time with department approval, but they must have part-time enrollment and an RCL for Final Semester filed with OIS. Part time is defined as:
      • Undergraduate: 6 units or less
      • Graduate students: 4 units or less total or one final class. If one final class, the total combined units, including the CPT credit, cannot be more than 5 units (Ex. 4-unit class + 1- unit of ENGR 596)
    • Students can work part-time on-campus as well as full-time CPT simultaneously.
      • Ph.D. students who have a 50% RA/TA/GA/fellowship are not eligible for CPT during fall and spring semesters.
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Duration of Authorization

CPT authorization is given on a semester basis and students must apply separately for each semester they wish to do CPT. CPT is only authorized for the dates of the specific semester. CPT I-20 start dates will be listed either as the requested start date or the approval date, whichever is later. Restrictions on end dates may occur based on the start of RA/TA positions. Program extensions will not be granted for the purpose of CPT. Current start and end dates for CPT are below (dates not guaranteed).

Summer 2021 Fall 2021 Spring 2022
If this is your final semester May 17 – Aug 10 Aug 23 – Dec 15 Jan 10 – May 13
If this is NOT your final semester May 17 – Aug 20 Aug 23 – Jan 7 Jan 10 – May 13

CPT and OPT

CPT does not interfere with students’ eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation unless they have done a total of 12 months full-time CPT during their degree program. In this case, they would lose the option to do OPT. Amounts under the 12 months full-time DO NOT cancel any portion of OPT.

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CPT Application Process

  1. Student secures a job offer.
  2. Student contacts academic advisor with employment offer letter and OIS CPT Application Form.
  3. Academic advisor signs OIS CPT Application Form and gives clearance (if applicable) for internship course registration.
  4. Student registers for internship course during registration period.
  5. Student emails completed CPT Application Form to OIS for processing.
    • Submit RCL form for final semester as well if enrolled in less than full time units.
  6. OIS emails CPT authorization (DocuSigned CPT I-20) to student within 4 business days.
    • CPT authorization and employment information will be annotated on page 2 or 3 of the CPT I-20.
    • Review CPT authorization to ensure accuracy.
  7. Begin working on CPT.
    • Student may not begin working until s/he has received the CPT I-20 from OIS and the employment start date has been reached.
Please note:
  • CPT application deadline is the last/add-drop date of each semester unless student is able to add the internship course with special permission—at the discretion of academic department.
  • CPT authorization is employer-specific and is valid for the student’s current employer only. If the student changes jobs, s/he will need to apply for a new CPT authorization.
  • Students must keep all original copies of CPT I-20s as they will be required for future USCIS applications such as OPT, H1Bs, and permanent residency.
  • Working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of F1 status
  • Contact OIS for questions regarding CPT.
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