F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

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 study programs in the U.S. and want to gain experience in their fields of study. CPT is not available after a student completes a degree program.

Students are eligible to apply for an unlimited amount of CPT. However, if 12 months or more of full-time CPT is used, a student forfeits Optional Practical Training eligibility. Accrual of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT.

For full details, review the narrated tutorial at left.

Eligibility for CPT

To obtain CPT, a student must:

  • Be in valid F-1 immigration status for at least two semesters (except graduate students who must work as a requirement for their degree).
  • Have completed at least one academic year as a full time student in a SEVIS approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary immediately prior to the CPT authorization. The only exception is for graduate students enrolled in a degree program that requires an internship of all students prior to the completion of one academic year.
  • Secure a job offer related to the student's field of study.
  • 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 in "filing fee status."

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

  • Haas MBA Entrepreneur Program
  • Masters of Bioengineering/Masters of Translational Medicine (Capstone Project: Bioengineering 296)
  • Masters of City Planning
  • Masters of Development Practice
  • Masters of Financial Engineering
  • Masters of Journalism (Summer internship requires proof of J297 Reporting Internship registration for Fall term)
  • Masters of Landscape Architecture (requires LD ARCH 160)
  • Masters of Public Policy
  • Masters of Public Health
    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. Enrollment in the course must be concurrent with the employment. Employment may take place in Fall, Spring or Summer. Authorization will be granted on a semester-only basis. However, if a student wishes to work for a period longer than the last day of the semester, s/he must enroll in the next available semester before authorization can be extended beyond the current term (see Application Process, below). Current eligible courses include:

  • Undergraduates, 97/197 Internship/Field Studies or 99/199 Independent Study
    • 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 C196W
  • Graduates, 297 Internship/Field Studies or 299 Independent Study
    • Haas MBA 293C Individual Supervised Study
    • Masters in Landscape Architecture LD ARCH 160 or LA 297
    • Architecure ED193 (Summer 2017 only)
    • Public Policy 299 or 205
    • School of Information 293: CPT for International Students
    • 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(link is external)(link is external) and UGIS W157 for Independent U.S. Summer Internship Credit Option(link is external)(link is external) (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 hrs/week or less) during the Fall and Spring semesters.
  • Graduate students who have advanced to candidacy are eligible for full-time employment during the 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/week. 

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.
  • 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 advisor to be able to add Independent Study units into their Summer enrollment. 
  • Authorization can be granted from the day after spring semester officially ends up to the last day of the summer (day before fall classes begin). 

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 all student requests, including CPT, is three business days (excluding weekends and holidays). 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.

Steps to Apply

  1. Complete the CPT Application Form.
  2. Request a recommendation signature from your academic department at the bottom of the CPT Application Form.
  3. Enroll in the appropriate course (All applicants are required to enroll in a course unless they have a Degree Requirement).
  4. Print your Cal Central "My Academics" page 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 Cal Central confirmation before coming to our office.
  5. Submit the CPT Application Form to Berkeley International Office. Advisors 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. Pick up your new I-20 at Berkeley International Office three business days after submitting your application. The I-20 is shown to the employer as evidence of work authorization.

Extending CPT

To extend CPT beyond the current semester, complete the Application Process steps 1-6 again. An extension of CPT authorization cannot be granted until proof of enrollment is available. Students who are working in the fall term and wish to extend through winter break into the spring term should consult with an Advisor in Berkeley International Office.

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.