Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

An F-1 student may engage in temporary employment (paid or unpaid) if the work is related to one's program of study. The purpose of Practical Training is to gain hands-on experiences that compliment the classroom learning. There are two types of Practical Training- Curricular Practical Training (during your program of study) and Optional Practical Training (after your program of study).

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

An F-1 student may be authorized by the university to participate in CPT program that is an integral part of his or her established curriculum. CPT is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum.

Students are required to attend a CPT seminar before applying for CPT. Students must attend a CPT seminar per degree level. Please allow for 7-10 business days for processing after submitting your completed documents to the OISS front desk. You are required to have CPT authorization on your I-20 prior to beginning the employment. The OISS cannot authorize CPT with a start date in the past; please plan accordingly and submit your paperwork in a timely manner!


  • F-1 students who are legally maintaining their status; and
  • Who have been enrolled full-time for at least eight months (one academic year) at EMU. Exception: graduate students who have internship requirements within their first academic year.
  • Students must be registered full-time during the academic year (fall and winter terms) to participate in CPT. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis only if the student has an approved Reduced Hours Form. Students must be enrolled in at least 1 course which directly relates to their employment to be eligible for CPT during the summer term.
  • Students on Probation 1 may have part-time CPT for one term only. Students on Probation 2 or higher are ineligible for CPT.
  • Students that are full-time Graduate Assistants (100%) or full-time student employees on campus (20 hours) are only eligible for part-time CPT. Students that are part-time Graduate Assistants or part-time student employees are eligible for either part or full-time CPT.
  • F-1 students must have a job offer on letterhead.

Types of CPT

  1. Required for your degree program. Required means that all students in your degree program are required to complete an internship or practicum in order to receive the degree.
  2. Cooperative Education (co-op). The work is considered as EMU co-op credit under the Academic Advising and Career Development Center (UACDC, 200 McKenny Hall).
  3. Integral part of an established curriculum. If the internship is not required for the degree, it must be taken for academic credit and connected to a relevant class that has similar educational objectives. To be approved, the professor needs to confirm that the work serves as an "integral part of the student's curriculum" and describe how the work is directly relevant to the academic objectives of the class.

Application Process

  • Attend a CPT seminar. See the seminars page for dates and locations.
  • Thoroughly read the CPT packet [PDF]. The CPT packet contains detailed instructions on eligibility, how to apply and application documents.
  • Fill out and compile all the necessary documents.
  • Bring your complete CPT application to the OISS front desk for processing. Please allow for 7-10 business days for processing after submitting your completed documents.

Can I volunteer without CPT approval?

There is a common misconception on what is considered "volunteering" and what needs CPT authorization from the OISS. Receiving a paycheck has nothing to do with whether or not you need CPT approval. We suggest all students who are working (paid or unpaid) obtain CPT authorization. However, there may be some opportunities which are truly volunteer, and you may not necessarily need CPT authorization.

According to the Department of Labor, a volunteer is an "individual who performs hours of service… for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered." Such volunteering examples in a non-profit setting are working at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

Appropriate volunteering at a for-profit, private sector company is much more complicated. To meet the Department of Labor's standards of volunteering at a for-profit company, you must meet all their six criteria on Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs [PDF]. If you and your company can confirm you meet these six criteria, your work is considered as volunteering and you are not required to apply for CPT. However, it is still recommended by the OISS to obtain CPT authorization as these criteria are difficult to meet, subject to interpretation, and may be scrutinized in future benefit applications, such as OPT and H1B.

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