Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a benefit of F-1 status that permits off-campus employment only if it is necessary to fulfill one of the following academic objectives:

  1. A course offered in the Boston University course catalog for which a student will earn academic credit
  2. A Boston University cooperative education (co-op) program
  3. A required non-credit internship or practicum
  4. An off-campus placement arranged by Boston University to pursue graduate thesis or dissertation research that cannot be accomplished on campus, and is required to complete your degree program.

Employment that offers “excellent” or “relevant” experience to a student’s field of study, but does not meet one of the objectives listed above, does not qualify for CPT. Please refer to the section on Optional Practical Training for alternatives.


You are eligible for CPT after you have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis in a degree program for one full academic year (excluding time spent in an intensive English program) and are currently in F-1 status. Exception: Graduate students in F-1 status are exempt from the one full academic year requirement only if their graduate program requires immediate participation in CPT.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you regain F-1 status with the use of a Form I-20 issued for “Initial Attendance,” time accrued toward eligibility for CPT will begin when the new F-1 status is granted upon arrival at the port of entry with the new I-20. Any time previously spent in F-1 status will not count toward eligibility. An application to change immigration status to the F-1 classification from within the U.S. may also affect eligibility for CPT. Students should discuss eligibility with an ISSO advisor if considering CPT within the first two full semesters after changing to F-1.

F-1 students enrolled for study at the Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP) are NOT eligible for CPT.

Part-time or Full-time CPT

CPT can be authorized during the academic year or during the summer, but must be specified as either part-time or full-time.

Important: There is no regulatory limit to CPT. The overall amount of CPT that will be authorized is defined by what is required or permitted under your degree program. However, if you are authorized for a total of 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training. Periods of part-time CPT authorization do not have any effect on OPT.

Part-time CPT

For employment that only requires 20 hours (or fewer) of work per week. You are required to register for a full-time credit load if you engage in part-time CPT during the Fall or Spring semester.

Full-time CPT

For employment that will require more than 20 hours of work per week. You are not required to enroll in other courses if you are engaged in full-time CPT during the Fall or Spring semester, but you must be registered as a “certified full-time” student by your academic department at Boston University.

Applying for CPT

You must contact the ISSO to apply for CPT authorization before you begin employment. CPT must be authorized for a specific employer, location and time period; therefore you must have a job offer at the time of application and you may not begin work before CPT is authorized by an ISSO advisor. If there is a change of employer, job location, or dates of employment, you must reapply for CPT.