Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a benefit granted to F-1 students allowing them to engage in off-campus internships that are an integral part of the student’s degree plan prior to program completion.

CPT must be an integral part of a degree program for which work authorization is provided. It allows students to gain practical experience in their field of work while they are still taking classes in their degree program.

CPT cannot not be used solely for employment purposes.

*IMPORTANT: You may engage in CPT only if you have already received written approval on your I-20 from an ISO advisor. Any off-campus training undertaken prior to receiving written authorization or beyond the authorized dates violates F-1 immigration regulations and can lead to termination of your F-1 student status.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT must be directly related to the field of study (major) and appropriate for the level of study. In addition, it must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Required to Complete Degree Program – Internships, practicums and cooperative education (Co-op) opportunities that are an established part of a curriculum and is a graduation requirement of the degree program.


  1.  An Integral Part of Curriculum – Internships, practicums and cooperative education (Co-op) opportunities which are not required by the degree program but may still meet the requirements if students receive academic credit or there is transcript documentation.

Note: CPT is curricular and therefore, must always be tied to a course.

  1. You must have been enrolled consecutively for the equivalent of one academic year in an immigration status as an active full-time student. An academic year at TCU is defined as 2 semesters, not counting the summer term.
  2. You must be in valid F-1 status.
  3. You must have completed at least 1 full academic semester at TCU at your current degree level before you are eligible to apply for CPT. This includes transfer or change of level students.
  4. You must have an offer letter in hand before applying for CPT.

IMPORTANT: Part time CPT is considered 20 hours or less per week. Students are eligible for part-time CPT during required terms. Part time CPT does not have any effect on Post-completion OPT eligibility. Full-time CPT is more than 20 hours per week and can only be authorized during official school breaks. Engaging in 12 months or more of full-time CPT will result in loss of OPT eligibility.

During the Academic Semester

  • You are eligible to participate a maximum of 20 hours/week total (on- and off-campus combined).
  • You must maintain full-time enrollment status at TCU and be making normal progress toward the completion of your degree.

*Graduate students in programs that require an internship within the first year should see an ISO advisor about a possible exception. Students who have been enrolled full-time at a U.S. college/university in another status immediately before changing status to F-1 should consult with an ISO advisor regarding eligibility.

During Official Vacation Periods

  • You are eligible to participate full-time. Note that you may not engage in CPT without authorization and work hours are limited to part time/full time based on the authorization as listed on page 2 of your I-20. If you are authorized for part time CPT, you may not engage in full time CPT without a new authorization from the ISO.
  • If summer is your first or final term, it is considered a required term and not a vacation period.
  • You must be enrolled full-time in the next consecutive term at TCU.

To apply, you must complete the CPT Request eForm through the ISO Gateway. Paper applications will no longer be accepted. Please allow a minimum of 5 business days for processing.


There is technically no limit to the amount of CPT authorizations. However, it’s important to keep in mind that CPT should not be used as employment. It should be curricular and an integral part of your degree plan.

20 hours or less during required terms and over 20 hours during official school breaks. Note that you may not engage in CPT without authorization and work hours are limited to part time/full time based on the authorization as listed on page 2 of your I-20.

No. Students are only allowed to work for the employer listed in the CPT authorization on their I-20. If you are looking to switch, you must consult with your ISO advisor before doing so. A new CPT authorization will be required for each new employer.

If your CPT ends early, please let the ISO know immediately so that we can shorten your records accordingly. If you cancel your CPT, it’s important to note that we cannot delete a CPT authorization. However, we will shorten the CPT authorization and attach a note explaining the situation. This is why it is extremely important you update your ISO advisor as soon as you are aware of the changes.

No, you must reapply for CPT each semester. If you would like to continue CPT, plan ahead and submit another CPT application to the ISO for approval at least one week before the end date of the current CPT. You are only authorized to work at the employer/co-op/internship listed on your I-20 and during the dates specified. Any work that takes place before or after the dates listed on your I-20 for CPT is considered unauthorized employment. Unauthorized employment is a serious F-1 violation. 

While on CPT you still have certain responsibilities towards maintaining lawful F-1 status, such as:

  • Always report any change of address to the TCU ISO advisor within 10 days of moving.
  • Only work at the company indicated on your I-20.
  • Only work during the authorized time period as indicated on your I-20.
  • Do not exceed the number of working hours permitted while on CPT.
  • Maintain a full-course of study each semester.
  • Meet all Internship Course Requirements.

Payment is not a factor in determining CPT authorization. If your engagement is truly voluntary, unpaid, and meets labor law criteria, then CPT may not be needed. Please consult with the International Services Office if you are unsure.