Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Students who have been in F-1 status for at least one academic year are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which is temporary employment in their field of study for purposes of gaining practical experience. Students are eligible for an additional year of OPT at each higher degree level (i.e. Bachelor's, Master's, Ph.D.).

There are four types of OPT:

  • Post-Completion OPT: The most common type; begins after the completion of your degree program
  • Pre-Completion OPT: Can be used during your degree program if Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is not an option
  • 24-Month STEM OPT: A 24-month extension of post-completion OPT for STEM students who have completed degree in a field recognized by the Department of Homeland Security and who are working for employers enrolled in the eVerify program
  • Cap-Gap OPT: A short extension of OPT to cover the period between the end of OPT and the beginning of H1-B status (for those who have a pending/approved H1-B Change of Status petition)

See the Global Penn State website for more information about the different types of OPT, along with eligibility and application procedures for each.

NOTE: When applying for any type of OPT, you must provide contact information for your academic or thesis adviser rather than an adviser from our office. Your academic or thesis adviser must confirm your graduation date.


Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations

College of Engineering

117 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-863-1032