Curricular Practical Training (CPT) (F-1)

If your major requires a practicum for degree completion or you enrolled in a for-credit course that requires internship hours, you may qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. An internship or practicum placement required for a minor may qualify for CPT if it directly related to the major field of study.

CPT authorization is required for any curricular placement or for-credit internship, whether paid or unpaid, including:

  1. An internship or practicum that is required for degree completion
  2. An internship required for a course offered in the BU course catalog for which a student will earn academic credit
  3. An off-campus placement arranged by BU to pursue graduate thesis or dissertation research that cannot be accomplished on campus, and is required to complete your degree program

If the Internship Is Not Required

An internship must meet an academic (or “curricular”) requirement to qualify for CPT authorization.

If you have an internship or employment opportunity that offers “excellent” or “relevant” experience to your major field, but is not required for your program as defined above, you will need to apply for and be approved for Optional Practical Training in order to accept that position.

CPT Eligibility

If your internship qualifies for CPT, you will become eligible to apply 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 an internship.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you fall out of legal F-1 status and then regain status by reentering the U.S. with a Form I-20 issued for “Initial Attendance,” your eligibility clock starts over at the time you reenter and start your new F-1 status. This means that after your return to the U.S. with a new I-20, you will have to finish one full year (two semesters) of study before you become eligible for CPT. 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.

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 affect OPT eligibility.

Part-Time CPT Authorization

If your internship or curricular placement requires 20 hours (or fewer) of work per week, you will be authorized for part-time CPT. You must maintain a full-time credit load if you engage in part-time CPT during the Fall or Spring Semester.

Full-Time CPT Authorization

If your internship or curricular placement requires more than 20 hours of work per week, you will need full-time CPT authorization. If you are engaged in full-time CPT during the Fall or Spring semester, you may qualify to be registered as a “certified full-time” student by your academic department at BU.

Applying for CPT Authorization

In order to apply for CPT authorization, you will need to:

  1. Secure a job offer or placement from your internship site
  2. Register for any required internship course in the same semester that you are requesting CPT
  3. Complete a CPT Form and Acknowledgement with signature(s) from your academic advisor or your school’s internship placement office
  4. Once your CPT recommendation is complete, request CPT authorization from the ISSO in one of two ways:
    • Call the ISSO at 617-353-3565 to schedule a CPT appointment with your ISSO advisor, or
    • Bring your completed and signed CPT Form and Acknowledgement along with your F-1 immigration documents to request drop-off processing of your CPT request. Completed requests will be evaluated for approval within five business days.

When to Apply

You must have CPT authorized BEFORE you begin work or placement. CPT is authorized by your ISSO Advisor for a specific employer, location, hours and dates. You should always plan to obtain the CPT authorization at least a few weeks before you wish to begin your internship. If there is a change of employer, job location, or dates of employment, you must reapply for CPT.

After CPT Authorization

Once you have been granted CPT authorization for a specific placement, make certain to read our  FAQs for CPT, which answers many frequently asked questions related to the limits of CPT authorization, fair labor standards for unpaid internships, and rules for employment verification and taxation for paid placements.

Volunteering

If you are participating in an internship or placement that is required for your degree program or required for credit, then CPT authorization is required. CPT is required whether or not you will be paid for the placement.

If you wish to volunteer for an organization in a role that is not a curricular requirement and not paid, volunteering without ISSO authorization may be permissible in limited circumstances. Check with an ISSO advisor ahead of time to make sure.