Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary work authorization for international students who hold an F-1 visa and who have been enrolled full-time in a college-level degree program for at least one academic year. Both undergraduate and graduate students can use CPT for an internship or co-op experience that is directly related to their major or field of study.

As part of the CPT application process, students must obtain an adviser recommendation. Depending upon the type of work experience the student plans to complete and the timeframe for the experience, departmental faculty or staff (e.g., academic advisers) may be able to complete the recommendation. We provide the following guidance to help you if a student approaches you about a CPT recommendation.

General Guidelines

Faculty members or advisers may complete recommendations for:

  • Undergraduate international students who want to enroll in ENGR 195 (internship) during a summer semester only
  • Graduate international students who want to enroll in ENGR 595 (internship) during any semester

Faculty members or advisers may not complete recommendations for undergraduate international students who want to enroll in ENGR 197 (internship less than 8 weeks) or ENGR 295, ENGR 395, or ENGR 495 (co-op). These recommendations must be completed by Carmen Bilén, Associate Director, Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations.

Faculty advisers must complete recommendations for graduate international students who want to enroll in thesis or departmental credits during their internships.

Recommendation Process

International students must complete specific steps for CPT, which includes obtaining an offer letter and job description that meet the requirements of the Directorate of International Student and Scholar Advising (DISSA). Please direct students to the detailed student CPT information on our website for more information about what they need to do.

After they have obtained an appropriate offer letter and job description, students must request CPT online by completing the iStart application, which is housed on the Global Programs website. This application includes a request for them to provide the name and email address for the individual they are asking to complete the request. If a student lists you as the adviser, you will receive a message from, which will provide the student's name and a link/login for you to access the recommendation form.

The form will ask you for specific information about the student, so please notify the student that you cannot complete recommendation until he/she provides you with the information you need (see below), as well as a copy of his/her offer letter and a detailed job description.

The form will request:

  • The number of credits the student has left to complete his/her degree program as of the end of the current semester 
  • The course number the student intends to take—note that ENGR 195 and ENGR 595 are controlled and we must enroll the student in the appropriate course
  • The student's intended graduation date (academic calendars are available on the Registrar's website)
  • Whether or not the work experience is required for graduation—note that internships are not required for any major in the College of Engineering
  • A statement about how the work experience would relate to the student's major (to complete this, you must have a detailed job description for the student's work experience)

You will also be asked to provide your name, title, and contact information. Once you have submitted the form, you will receive a confirmation that DISSA has received it.

If the student has requested ENGR 195 or ENGR 595, please forward the confirmation so we can get the student registered for the appropriate course.

If the student has requested a departmental course, you may either advise the student to register for the course or assist him/her in registering for a controlled course, per the policy of your department.

Please note that students must be enrolled in and pay for their internship course before CPT can be issued.

For any questions about CPT, please contact Carmen Bilén, Associate Director, Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations.


Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations

College of Engineering

117 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-863-1032