CPT & OPT Information

*Important Update: The below USCIS eligibility requirement for CPT remains the same, even in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Graduate students must complete two academic terms on campus at full-time enrollment in order to apply for CPT/OPT the following summer term.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, clerkship, or optional/required internship or practicum, available only while International students are in F-1 status and before completion of their educational objective.

There are two CPT options: full-time (over 20 hours) and part-time (20 hours or less). Full-time CPT of one year (365 days) or more will lead to student ineligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT); a part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.

*Please note that this includes any full-time internships or clerkships that are required by the program. Check your academic program requirements carefully prior-to engaging in optional internships.

CPT Eligibility Requirements

  • Students must be enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year (fall and spring semesters)
  • Employment must be relevant to the established curriculum
  • CPT training is encouraged but not required by the ISE department for program completion

How to Apply for Curricular Practical Training

Students are responsible for finding internships and will need an official offer before the start of the semester in which the internship is to be completed, so that all documents can be processed by the ChE academic department and the international center in a timely manner.

Application Requirements

  • Complete CPT Employment Information form
  • Complete Department Recommendation for CPT form
  • Provide an official CPT Internship Offer Letter from the prospective employer. This letter must:
    • be on employer letterhead, signed and dated by supervisor/HR representative and include the students signature indicating acceptance of the internship
    • include the Employer Identification Number (EIN) of the employer
    • include current date
    • include the student’s given and family/surname
    • provide position/job title
    • provide start date and end date of internship
    • state number of hours expected to work per week
    • provide the exact physical address for the position
    • provide a general description of duties (3-5 sentences or bullet points; if company does not proved duties in offer letter, then an addendum to the offer letter must be provided)
  • Send a copy of your completed CPT internship offer letter to the ChE Graduate Academic Advisor, Shirley Kelly.
  • Next, your internship offer letter will be reviewed by the academic coordinator, Professor Kirk Ziegler, for approval/disapproval.
  • If approved, the ChE Graduate Academic Advisor, Shirley Kelly, will then register you for the correct number of internship credits, EGN 5949 (3 credits fall and spring or 2 credits summer).

The Graduate Advisor will notify students that their internships are approved and that they are registered for EGN 5949.  Students are only allowed 3 internship credits that will count towards their degree.  If a student continues with an internship beyond 1 semester, they need to submit a new CPT with an updated offer letter to be approved by the academic coordinator.  Although a student may be registered for additional credits of EGN 5949, the student will still only be able to use 3 credits towards their degree.

Students can now complete their CPT Departmental Recommendation and CPT Employment Information forms online. Students should continue to keep in contact with their International Student Advisor after their Graduate Academic Advisor has approved their online CPT departmental recommendation and CPT Employment Information’s forms.

If you have any questions about the Departmental Recommendation for CPT form or CPT Employment Information form, make an appointment to see Shirley Kelly.

Ph.D. CPT Applicants

Students that have assistantships must elect either the assistantship or the internship; both cannot be completed at the same time.  If a student wants to do an internship, the ChE HR department must be informed of the semester in which the internship is to be completed. ChE-HR will drop the student assistantship for that term.  All students are responsible for payment of the internship course.  Once the internship is over, students will return to their assistantships in the following semester.

End of Semester Internship Grading:

Students will receive a grade of “S” (Satisfactory) or “U” (Unsatisfactory) for internships.

The ChE Graduate Academic Advisor will send out an email 1-2 weeks before grades are due, asking students to request that their supervisor/HR representative send a letter on company letterhead, along with their supervisor/HR representative’s signature, by email to both Dr. Kirk Ziegler and Shirley Kelly stating if their student work was satisfactory/or unsatisfactory.  If this letter is not received by the time when grades are due, the student will receive an Incomplete (“I”) grade. Once we receive the requested letter with the student’s grade, we will then proceed with a grade change for the course, if necessary.

If you have any questions or concerns about CPT, make an appointment to see the ChE Graduate Academic Advisor, Shirley Kelly.


Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined as: “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.” The student can use it during or after program completion.

Pre-completion OPT is always part-time and can be used at any time during the degree program. Post-completion OPT is full-time and is granted only after graduation or completion of the degree program.

Applying for OPT (Optional Practical Training Recommendation I-20)

For more information on how to apply for an OPT, visit the International Center. The first step in applying for OPT from USCIS is to request the OPT Recommendation I-20 from the F-1 International Student Advisor by submitting the OPT Request online. Students may apply for OPT during the 90 days prior to their graduation day and within the 60 days following their graduation day.

All online OPT recommendations should come to the ISE Graduate Academic Advisor, Shirley Kelly, to approve and submit.