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. CPT is approved for a specific internship or co-op, for a specific time period. Please direct students to the detailed student CPT information on our website for more information.

International students who have an offer for an internship or co-op must complete specific steps for CPT:

  1. They must complete an Employment Survey (login with Penn State credentials required) and upload their offer letter and a detailed job description to the Survey. Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations staff use this information to determine whether or not a specific internship or co-op meets ISSA requirements and to register students for internship or co-op credit during the semester(s) they intend to work.
  2. Once registered for credit, students must complete the CPT eForm in iStart, which is housed on the Penn State Global website; as part of this process, students must have a secondary recommendation form completed by a Penn State faculty or staff member. 

In most cases, we recommend that undergraduate students list Carmen Bilén, Associate Director, Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations, as the adviser for the secondary recommendation. However, 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. 

General Guidelines

College of Engineering

Faculty members or academic advisers may complete secondary recommendations for:

  • Undergraduate international students who have been enrolled in ENGR 185 (short-term/short duration internship) or ENGR 195 (standard internship) during a summer semester only
  • Graduate international students (pre-comprehensive exam) who have been enrolled in ENGR 595 (internship) during any semester

Faculty members or advisers may not complete secondary recommendations for undergraduate international students who want to enroll in 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 secondary recommendations for post-comprehensive graduate international students who are enrolled in either ENGR 595 or thesis/departmental credits during their internships.

College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

All international engineering students in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences must request that their academic adviser or department head complete their CPT secondary recommendation. Contact Kevin Fleck, Director of Career Services for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, for assistance. 

Recommendation Process

If an international student requests that you provide the secondary recommendation for CPT and you wish to do so:

  1. First, confirm that the student has been registered for ENGR 185, ENGR 195, or ENGR 595. These courses are controlled and can only be added to a student's schedule by a member of Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations staff; to request registration, students must complete their Employment Survey and upload their offer letter and job description for review.
  2. If the student is registered for ENGR 185, ENGR 195, or ENGR 595, ask for a copy of his or her offer letter and job description. You will need this information to complete the recommendation.

Once the student has completed the CPT eForm in iStart and provided your name and email address for the secondary recommendation, 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, including:

  • The number of credits the student has left to complete his/her degree program as of the end of the current semester 
  • The course the student will take while working (e.g., ENGR 185, ENGR 195, or ENGR 595)
  • 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
  • Which criteria are used for grading—our courses require evaluations and a report
  • Whether or not the student has completed coursework—the answer must be No for the student to be eligible for CPT
  • A detailed statement about how the work experience would relate to the student's major (to complete this part, you must use the information in the job description)

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 ISSA has received it. Please forward this confirmation to Carmen Bilén.

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