Skip to content

Curricular Practical Training

General Information

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined by F-1 visa regulations as: alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school [Source: [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)].
Participating in CPT requires DSO authorization who reviews the practical training opportunity to ensure it is an integral part of an established curriculum. Therefore, a CPT opportunity must be:
  • Required by the curriculum: This means that all students in the degree program must be required to complete an internship or practicum in order to receive their degree and students must upload a copy of their Learning Contract.
  • Directly related to an F-1 student’s academic program: If the internship is not required, then the student MUST be receiving academic credit for participating in CPT. The student and their advisor will need to complete the Registrar’s Application for Internship and document how it relates to the student’s major.
Students can participate in CPT up to 20 hours per week (while school is in session) and up to 40 hours per week during their annual vacation term. Be aware that 12 months or more of full – time CPT will eliminate a student’s eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Eligibility Requirements:

  • F-1 students are eligible for CPT after completion of 2 semesters of full-time study (one academic year).
    • Exception: 
      • Graduate students whose degree requires immediate participation in an internship may apply at any time.
  • F-1 Students must be in lawful F-1 status at the time of their application
  • Student MUST have a signed, written offer of employment on the employer’s letterhead (see sample CPT Letter) or a signed cooperative agreement to apply for CPT (graduate students: see placement coordinator).
  • F-1 students who are requesting CPT during the academic year must maintain full time status.
    • If a student is enrolled part-time because they do not need a full course load to complete the last semester of their program, they must meet with their DSO to determine if eligible for last-semester CPT. Students should at least be also registered for a required class beyond their internship credits.
    • Students who are approved for a reduced course load and are applying for part-time CPT will be considered on a case by case basis. 
NOTE: CPT will NOT be granted to students who have finished their program requirements and who are merely delaying graduation to make use of CPT.  Work authorization after completing one’s program will require applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) which is adjudicated by the USCIS.

 Additional Information

  • Students participating in off campus unpaid internships or practicum placements must meet with their DSO to determine if this opportunity requires CPT authorization.
  • Students must receive a new I-20 document, reflecting their CPT endorsement, prior to beginning their CPT.
  • The DSO, cannot authorize CPT with a start date in the pastPlease complete and submit this application at least 7 to 10 days in advance of the day you wish to begin CPT.
  • Students cannot engage in CPT prior to or after the specific authorized dates on their I-20. Doing may be considered unlawful employment which would be a violation of your F-1 visa status.
    • If you expect that you will need to participate in CPT beyond your I-20 program end date, you MUST
      1. apply for a program extension, and
      2. reapply for a new term of CPT to be approved.
  • The CPT application will require proof of course enrollment.  You will be expected to provide evidence showing that you are registered for internship credit(s) for the dates of your CPT request.  This information can be found in your student portal.
  • When utilizing CPT during the summer session, you need to abide by Wheaton's community covenant and submit signed copy to Registrar at the time of internship course enrollment.
  • Registering for an internship class or practicum may increase the cost of your tuition. See the Wheaton College Cost of Tuition website for more details or follow up with the Registrar's Office and/or your DSO with questions.
  • If you would like to participate in both CPT and on campus employment, while school is in session, please schedule a meeting with your DSO to discuss your eligibility (and impact on future employment benefits) for this option. 
  • If you change employers while on CPT or will work for more than one employer at a time, you need to file a new CPT application. CPT is employer specific, that is, you can only work for the company that is listed on your I-20.
    NOTE: Music students with multiple ‘gigs’ should consult with their DSO
  • The DSO will only authorize CPT for one semester at a time. Students must reapply by completing all necessary steps in the process for each semester of CPT.
  • Students may not be self-employed during their CPT authorization. Since CPT is considered a learning/educational experience, you cannot work for yourself. Your CPT role requires supervision and training that helps meet your educational goals.

Ready to start an application for CPT? 

If you prefer to learn more information first, please make an appointment with your DSO.