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. 

You can use CPT for an internship experience that is both related to and a required or important part of your field of study.  See the Global Programs website for more information about CPT.

If you have an offer for an internship and you are eligible for CPT, our office can help with the process of obtaining it.  The specific steps that you must take depend on a number of factors, including when and where you plan to work, what type of degree you are pursuing, and where you are in your degree program.

Fall or Spring Work Experiences

  1. Obtain an offer letter from your prospective employer that meets CPT requirements, including job title, exact start and end dates of employment, number of hours of work per week, place of employment (including street address, city, state, and zip code), and a brief description of duties.
  2. Complete the Employment Survey to notify our office of your upcoming internship and to give us important information about your employer and the course you plan to take.
  3. Complete the iStart application.
    • If you are currently working on your thesis and the work you plan to do in your internship will be used for your thesis, your adviser must complete the recommendation. Send the course number and the name of your adviser to Kim Fox.
    • If you are currently working on your thesis and the work you plan to do will not be used for your thesis:
      • If your prospective employer is located near University Park (or another Penn State campus), you may be eligible for CPT if you register concurrently for a full-time course load while working and for either ENGR 595 or independent study (IS).
        • If you register for ENGR 595, either Kim Fox from our office or your adviser may complete the recommendation. If you list your adviser, forward the iStart email to Kim Fox.
        • If you register for independent study (IS), your adviser must complete the recommendation.  Send the IS course number and the name of the supervising faculty member to Kim Fox.
      • If your prospective employer is not located near University Park, you may only be eligible for CPT if you are willing to pay for 9 credits of department-approved research associated with your internship. Most students in this situation opt not to complete an internship.
    • If you are not currently working on your thesis, you must maintain full-time registration (at least 9 credits) while completing your internship.
      • If your prospective employer is located near University Park (or another Penn State campus), you may be eligible for CPT if you register concurrently for a full-time course load while working and for either ENGR 595 or independent study (IS).
        • If you are registered for ENGR 595, either Kim Fox from our office or your adviser may complete the recommendation. If you list your adviser, forward the iStart email to Kim Fox.
        • If you are registered for independent study (IS), your adviser must complete the recommendation.  Send the IS course number and the name of the supervising faculty member to Kim Fox.
      • If your prospective employer is not located near University Park, you may only be eligible for CPT if you are willing to pay for 9 credits of department-approved research associated with your internship.  Most students in this situation opt not to complete an internship.
  4. Email a copy of your offer letter to whomever you have listed to complete the iStart recommendation.
  5. Once the recommendation has been completed, you will automatically be notified through the iStart system.
    • If you are taking ENGR 595, the course will be added within two business days of this notification.
    • If you are doing an independent study or thesis credits, please forward the iStart notification of the recommendation submission and the name and number of the course you are taking (i.e., ME 610, CSE 596, EE 601) to Kim Fox.
  6. Once you see the course on your schedule for the appropriate semester, submit payment for the course.  Your CPT request will not be finalized until course payment is completed.
  7. You should expect CPT review and approval to take place within 10 business days of receipt of the CPT recommendation being submitted.  Note that delays may occur in peak times, especially at the end of the spring semester.
  8. Someone from Global Programs will contact you directly to pick up your new I-20.

Summer-Only Work Experiences

  1. Obtain an offer letter from your prospective employer that meets CPT requirements, including job title, exact start and end dates of employment, number of hours of work per week, place of employment (including street address, city, state, and zip code), and a brief description of duties.
  2. Complete the Employment Survey to notify our office of your upcoming internship and to give us important information about your employer and the course you wish to take.
  3. If you are pursuing a M.S. or Ph.D. degree:
    • If you are currently working on your thesis, you must register for thesis credit and your adviser must complete the recommendation. Send the course number and the name of your adviser to Kim Fox.
    • If you are not currently working on your thesis, you may be registered for either ENGR 595 or independent study (IS).
      • If you are registered for ENGR 595, either Kim Fox from our office or your adviser may complete the recommendation. If you list your adviser, forward the iStart email to Kim Fox.
      • If you are registered for independent study (IS), your adviser must complete the recommendation.  Send the IS course number and the name of the supervising faculty member to Kim Fox.
  4. If you are pursuing an M.Eng. degree, you may be registered for either ENGR 595 or independent study (IS).
    • If you are registered for ENGR 595, either Kim Fox from our office or your adviser may complete the recommendation. If you list your adviser, forward the iStart email to Kim Fox.
    • If you are registered for independent study (IS), your adviser must complete the recommendation.  Send the IS course number and the name of the supervising faculty member to Kim Fox.
  5. Email a copy of your offer letter to whomever you have listed to complete the iStart recommendation.
  6. Once the recommendation has been completed, you will automatically be notified through the iStart system.
    • If you are taking ENGR 595, the course will be added within two business days of this notification.
    • If you are doing an independent study or thesis credits, please forward the iStart notification of the recommendation submission and the name and number of the course you are taking (i.e., ME 610, CSE 596, EE 601) to Kim Fox.
  7. Once you see the course on your schedule for the appropriate semester, submit payment for the course.  Your CPT request will not be finalized until course payment is completed.
  8. You should expect CPT review and approval to take place within 10 business days of receipt of the CPT recommendation being submitted.  Note that delays may occur in peak times, especially at the end of the spring semester.
  9. Someone from Global Programs will contact you directly to pick up your new I-20.
 

Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations

College of Engineering

117 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-863-1032