Curricular Practical Training (CPT)


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of work authorization that allows F-1 international students to participate in paid off-campus academic internships during their degree program. The purpose of CPT is academic, not just for employment purposes, and the internship must be considered an integral part of a student’s degree program.

Types of CPT

There are two types of CPT: required and optional. Required CPT is when the academic program mandates practical work experience for all students in order to graduate. Optional CPT is work experience directly related to your field of study that is not required. Merit University currently offers Optional CPT only.

Part-time CPT: Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. You must be simultaneously enrolled in classes full-time and be physically present on campus in order to maintain lawful F-1 status.

Full-time CPT: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is full-time. Please be aware that 12 months or more of full-time CPT will eliminate your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). You can only apply for Full-time CPT during your vacation quarter.


To be eligible for CPT, you must:

  • Have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year (i.e. three full consecutive quarters).
  • Be in lawful F-1 status
  • Have a job offer
  • Not be enrolled in an intensive English language training program

The Application Process

Do not start a job or internship until you receive CPT authorization from ISS (new I-20).
Allow three weeks for processing.


Student secures a job offer


Student meets with academic advisor with employment offer letter


Academic advisor gives clearance (if applicable) for internship course registration


Student registers for internship course during registration period


Return to MU in 4 business days to pick up the CPT authorization (CPT I-20)


Begin working on CPT

Please Note:

  • Student may not begin working until s/he has received the CPT I-20 and the employment start date has been reached
  • CPT authorization is employer specific and is valid for the student’s current employer only. If the student changes jobs, s/he will need to apply for a new CPT authorization
  • Students must keep all original copies of CPT I-20s as they will be required for future USCIS applications such as OPT, H1Bs and permanent residency
  • Working improperly or without authorization is a serious violation of F1 status – Contact MU for questions regarding CPT