F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Our normal processing time for CPT is 5 business days. However, CPT requests are commonly delayed due to errors or omissions on the request form or employment letter. Please submit your CPT application to BIO AT LEAST TWO WEEKS BEFORE your internship/employment start date to ensure you are authorized to work on time. If you submit your application later than that, we cannot guarantee that you will be authorized to work by your requested start date of employment. Please note that F-1 students are required to have their CPT I-20 in hand on their first day of employment.

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

Curricular Practical Training is a type of off-campus work permission for F-1 international students who are currently pursuing a course of study in the United States and want to gain experience in their fields of study. CPT is not available after a student completes a degree program.

If an F-1 student uses 12 months or more of full-time CPT at the same degree level , the student forfeits Optional Practical Training eligibility. (Use of full-time CPT in a prior degree at the same level would be included in the 12 month calculation.) Accrual of part-time CPT should not negatively affect eligibility for OPT. While there are no limitations on part-time CPT, high CPT usage can cause DHS to subject records to increased scrutiny when the student applies for OPT, visa applications, or other DHS benefits like H-1B petitions. UC Berkeley has noted a significant increase in Requests for Evidence for STEM OPT applications and H-1Bs for students with high rates of CPT usage.

CPT is an academic experience, and is not intended to be used for regular on-going off-campus work. Students should be mindful to keep all records of CPT and the academic work related to CPT, and how that employment is integral to the degree program. Students will need to retain copies of all previous CPT I-20s when applying later for OPT.

Eligibility for CPT

To obtain CPT, a student must:

  • Be in valid F-1 immigration status for at least two full-time semesters (1 academic year). Exceptions to 1 Academic Year Requirement (Rare): 1) Graduate students who have internship as a degree requirement for allstudents which must occur prior to completion of 1 academic year. 2) Students who have changed from some other US visa statusto F-1 student status and have been continually enrolled full-time for an academic year during the change of status period.
  • Secure an academically appropriate internship offer directly related to the student's field of study. NOTE: Positions must be appropriate to the student's level of study and major field of study. Retail sales, food service, and other unskilled positions will be denied.
  • Obtain CPT authorization BEFORE beginning employment; authorization cannot be back-dated.
  • Be registered for classes at UC Berkeley; CPT cannot be used when a graduate student is on Filing Fee status.
  • The student's supervisor for the internship cannot be an F-1 or J-1 student.

NOTE: Transfer students beginning their program at UC Berkeley in Summer are not generally approved for CPT during the initial Summer term. BIO recommends transfer students obtain OPT from their prior institution for internships occurring before the start of their Berkeley degree program. Students wishing to transfer in for Summer and begin immediate Summer CPT should consult a BIO advisor before taking any steps to apply.

Types of CPT

Degree Requirement CPT

CPT may be authorized when an internship is a requirement of a degree program (i.e., all students in the program must complete an internship to obtain the degree). Authorization can be for full-time or part-time employment, depending on the academic department's requirement. Proof of course enrollment for this type of CPT is not required but degree requirement. Degree requirement CPT can only be used once (to fulfill the requirement) and should occur during the program’s normal internship period. 

Currently, the following programs at UC Berkeley have been identified as requiring employment or practical training to graduate:

  • Haas MBA Program
  • Masters of Bioengineering/Masters of Translational Medicine (Capstone Project: Bioengineering 296)
  • Masters of City Planning
  • Masters of Design (MDes)
  • Masters Development Engineering (MDE)
  • Masters of Development Practice
  • Masters of Financial Engineering
  • Masters of Journalism 
  • Masters of Landscape Architecture
  • Masters of Public Affairs 
  • Masters of Public Policy
  • Masters of Public Health
  • MRED+D
  • Masters of Social Welfare
  • Optometry Residency Program
  • PhD in School Psychology

Course Credit CPT

CPT may be authorized for students who enroll in a course that requires employment to earn a grade, or a course where students design their own research project based on the employment. Course enrollment should be in the student's major department (or intended major for undeclared students). The only exception is for undergraduate students enrolled in Berkeley Global Internships OR Career Center Independent U.S. Summer Internship . If course enrollment is not available in the student's major department, the student’s major or undeclared intended major adviser must complete the CPT form, and provide additional explanations in the Academic Adviser’s Recommendation section. Applications with no explanation of alternate enrollment will be denied.

Enrollment in the course must be concurrent with the employment CPT employment must overlap with the internship enrollment semester dates. Employment may take place in the fall, spring, or summer terms. Authorization will be granted on a semester-only basis. You may request a CPT start date that either begins or ends during the semester break immediately before or after the internship semester. Students whose internship dates extend into the semester breaks will need to have a legitimate academic reason for requiring an CPT start/end outside of normal semester dates. (see Application Process, below). The student's academic department determines the appropriate number of internship units according to the academic program.

Be aware that summer CPT enrollment will also incur Summer enrollment fees. See the Summer Sessions fee website to calculate the cost of your Summer enrollment. BIO does not determine the cost of Summer fees. 

Current eligible courses include:

  • Undergraduates, 97/197 Internship/Field Studies or 99/199 Independent Study with the exception of the following major-specific enrollments:
    • Haas Undergraduates 193C Internship
    • Environmental Design 193 or ARCH 108 or LD ARCH 160
      Before enrolling in ARCH 108 during summer, students must meet with a BIO advisor.
    • UCDC Program Participants only: UGIS C196B
  • Graduates, 297 Internship/Field Studies or 299 Independent Study with the exception of the following major-specific enrollments:
    • Haas MBA 293C Individual Supervised Study
    • Masters in Landscape Architecture LD ARCH 260 or LA 297
    • Architecure ED193 (Summer 2017 only)
    • Public Policy 299 or 205
    • School of Information INFO293 
    • PhD in Business Administration PHDBA 602C
    • Law Students (J.D. & J.S.D.) 297 Internship/Field Studies or 299 Independent Study through Boalt.
      For summer CPT, enroll in Law 297 through Boalt.
      *See Dean Hirshen for enrollment and recommendation instructions.
    • Earth & Planetary Science 280
  • UGIS W157 or UGIS W158 for Berkeley Global Internships and UGIS C151 for Independent U.S. Summer Internship Credit Option (See links for instructions on how to apply for this course credit.)

Employment Dates and Hours

Fall and Spring CPT

  • Employment is limited to part-time (20 hours per week or less) during the Fall and Spring semesters. 
    • Earliest CPT start date is generally the start date of instruction. However, you may choose a start date that begins during the semester break immediately before the internship semester, if you have ana academically legitimate reason for extended dates. 
    • Latest CPT end date is the last day of final exams. However, you may choose an end date that ends during the semester break immediately after the internship semester, if you have an academically legitimate reason for extended dates. 
  • CPT dates must overlap with the internship enrollment or degree requirement semester dates.  Students whose internship dates extend into the semester breaks will need to have a legitimate academic reason for requiring an CPT start/end outside of normal semester dates, explained by ana academic advisor in the Exceptions section of the CPT form.
  • Students completing Degree-Requirement CPT (see above for Degree Requirement programs) may be authorized for full-time CPT during Fall/Spring only if needed to complete the degree requirement.
  • Graduate or undergraduate students participating in the UC DC Washington Program may be authorized for full-time CPT, if required by the UC DC internship.
  • Graduate students who have advanced to candidacy are eligible for full-time employment during the Fall/Spring semester as long as the employment is integral to their degree program.
  • For both graduates and undergraduates, CPT in the final semester of enrollment is limited to part-time 20 hours per week AND must end as of the last date of finals.

Note: Because CPT is part of the academic program of study, CPT is counted seperately from on-campus employment, and CPT work hours do not impact on-campus employment work hours. 

Summer CPT

  • Full-time (20 hours or more per week) employment is allowed for all continuing students in the summer.
  • If summer is the first or final semester of a student’s degree program, CPT is limited to 20 hours per week.
  • Students completing Degree-Requirement CPT (see above for Degree Requirement programs) may be authorized for full-time CPT during the final Summer semester only if needed to complete the degree requirement.
  • To be eligible, students must enroll in one of the current or next available Summer Sessions (A-E) in one of the courses listed above. Check with the sponsoring faculty member to determine the number of units required. Some students may need to obtain a course code from their academic adviser to be able to add Independent Study units into their Summer enrollment. 
  • Authorization can be granted from the day after the spring semester officially ends up to the last day of the summer (the day before fall classes begin). 
  • Transfer students beginning their program at UC Berkeley in Summer are not generally approved for CPT during the initial Summer term. BIO recommends transfer students obtain OPT from their prior institution for internships occurring before the start of their Berkeley degree program. Students wishing to transfer in for Summer and begin immediate Summer CPT should consult a BIO advisor before taking any steps to apply.

Note: Because CPT is part of the academic program of study, CPT is counted seperately from on-campus employment, and CPT work hours do not impact on-campus employment work hours. 

The CPT Application Process

Important! CPT Processing Time: The standard processing for most student requests, including CPT, is 5 business days (excluding weekends and holidays), but you should apply at least 2 weeks before your employment start date to ensure that your CPT is approved on time and you have your CPT I-20 in hand on your first day of work. Please keep this in mind as you plan your employment start date. Expedites are not available and we are unable to back-date CPT start dates. DO NOT begin any employment until CPT has been approved and authorized on your I-20. Beginning or continuing employment without authorization is a serious violation of your F-1 status. Incomplete applications may cause CPT to be denied or delayed.

Steps to Apply

  1. Work with your academic adviser and complete the Advisors's Recommendation sections of the CPT Application Form. The Academic Adviser’s Recommendation section of the form MUST be completed by:
  2. Enroll in the appropriate course in your Major or Intended Major. (All applicants are required to enroll in a course unless they have a Degree Requirement). The only exception is for Undergrads enrolled in Berkeley Global Internships OR Career Center Independent U.S. Summer Internship . If course enrollment is not available in the student's Major department, the student’s Major or Undeclared Intended Major Adviser must complete the CPT form, and provide additional explanations in the Academic Adviser’s Recommendation section. Applications with no explanation of alternate enrollment will be denied.
  3. Print your CalCentral "My Academics" page (see screenshot below) to show confirmation of enrollment and your name and attach it to the CPT Application Form. Please note: There are no printing facilities available for use at Berkeley International Office. Please print your CalCentral confirmation before coming to our office if submitting your CPT request in person (you can also submit it by email). CalCentral screenshot
  4. Provide a Verification Letter from your employer. Your employer must print and complete the CPT Template Letter (page 4 of the CPT request form) on their company letterhead. We will only accept a properly completed template letter. CPT applications without the Template Letter will be DENIED. The employment start and end dates on the letter must match the start and end dates on the CPT request form.
  5. Submit the CPT Application Form, employment verification letter, and Cal Central "My Academics Page" to Berkeley International Office, either in person or via email to internationaloffice@berkeley.edu . Advisers at Berkeley International Office will review your application and your eligibility. If approved, the authorization is granted by issuing a new I-20 with the employer's information notated on page 2 of the document.
  6. Berkeley International Office will complete your new CPT I-20 5 business days after submitting your application, and the new I-20 will be delivered to you in the method requested on your CPT form. The I-20 is shown to the employer as evidence of work authorization.

Extending CPT or Multiple Semesters

CPT is granted on a 1 semester basis. To extend CPT beyond the current semester, complete the Application Process steps 1-6 again. For course credit CPT, an extension of CPT authorization cannot be granted until proof of CPT enrollment for the next term is available. 

Do I need a Social Security Number?

For paid CPT, students will need to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). You will apply after you get the CPT I-20. For more information about this process, please refer to our Social Security Number page.

CPT Tutorial

Berkeley International Office F-1 Guide to Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

This tutorial helps you prepare for off-campus employment opportunities and internships while you are studying towards your degree.

How to get your BIO form electronically signed by an academic advisor

BIO understands that many academic advisors are working remotely and may not be able to sign forms by hand.  To accommodate this situation, we will accept the following types of signatures:

  1. Docusign signature
  2. Adobe digital signature  (example on page 3).
  3. Hand-drawn signature (not typed) using mouse or touch screen (example)
  4. Email confirmation of approval.  For this method, follow the steps below.
    • Email the BIO form to the appropriate academic advisor.  
    • The advisor should complete the bottom portion of the form but can type their name instead of signing in the signature field. They should email the form back to you with the line "I approve [student name and student ID] for ..." in the body of the email. 
    • Forward the academic advisor's email and the BIO form to us for review.  BIO's email address is internationaloffice@berkeley.edu.