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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

The purpose of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is to gain experience directly related to your major. CPT is authorized by an international student advisor in the Cal Poly International Center. No federal form or filing fee is required. A new I-20 will be issued with your employment authorization.

CPT Requirements:

  • Required for all paid or non-paid, part or full-time internships
    • ​Part-time authorizes you to work no more than 20 hours per week
  • Enrollment in and tuition paid for an appropriate course in your major
  • Enrollment during the term when you are working
    • The internship class requires you to work off-campus instead of attending weekly class meetings on-campus
    • Total enrollment during Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters must be at least 12 units for undergraduate student and 8 units for graduate students
    • Summer enrollment CPT course must be at least 1 unit in the 10-week session
    • Completing the internship course with a Credit or passing letter grade is required in order to maintain valid F-1 visa status 
  • Must be authorized before you can legally begin or continue the internship
  • You may not work outside of the authorized start and end dates
  • Must be authorized for each quarter of the internship, even for consecutive quarters

Please note:

  • 12 months or more of full-time CPT authorization during your degree program will make you ineligible for any of the 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for that degree. Part-time CPT does not impact eligibility for OPT.
  • CPT is only allowed prior to graduation.
  • You are only authorized to work for the company named on your I-20 and only during the dates specified.
  • Employment dates should be as close as possible to the quarter or summer session dates.
  • CPT cannot be used as a reason to extend your I-20 for not finishing your course work on time to graduate.
  • The cost of CPT authorization is the cost of enrolling in the internship class. (See minimum unit amounts above).


  • Full-time enrollment in F-1 visa status for a minimum of one academic year at Cal Poly or another college/university
  • Good academic standing: 2.0 or higher GPA for undergraduates / 3.0 or higher for graduate students
  • Making normal progress toward degree completion. 
  • Recommendation from your academic advisor (to submitted electronically within the CPT application)
  1. Obtain a job offer letter from your employer that contains:
    • Start and end dates of employment
    • Paid or unpaid position
    • Part-time (20 hours or less) or full-time (More than 20 hours)
    • Full address of where you will be working
    • Brief description of job duties
    • Signature of your employer
  2. Meet with your Academic Advisor or Internship Coordinator for your academic department
    • ​​Show the advisor your offer letter to confirm the internship is directly related to your major
    • Let the advisor know to expect an email to complete an electronic recommendation request
    • Discuss with your advisor which course to enroll in and the number of units
      • Course prefix must match the student's major program (i.e.: Civil Engineering - CE)
      • International students cannot enroll in an internship course that falls outside their major
      • International students cannot be given work authorization for internships related to their minor
      • The course requirements must be fulfilled by completion of the internship
      • For Summer Courses: The student should enroll in the summer session that most closely aligns the length of the student's internship. For example, if a student is pursuing an internship for most of the summer term, they should enroll in the 10-week summer session and not a 5-week summer session 
  3. Register for the CPT eligible class recommended by your Cal Poly academic advisor in your department
  4. Submit the online CPT Application - will be available after registration opens for the term
  5. You will receive an email when your CPT is approved
  6. If you will be working for pay and do not have a Social Security Card, visit our Social Security web page for instructions on how to apply