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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a benefit of F-1 status that authorizes a paid or unpaid off-campus placement only if it is necessary to fulfill one of the following academic objectives:

  1. Required for a course for credit: Placement is required for a course offered in the Boston University course catalog for which the student will earn academic credit. The course must be an integral part of your program of study and the placement must be directly related to your major field.

  2. Required for degree or program completion: An internship, practicum, or rotation required for degree or program completion. May be non-credit. A copy of the requirement, as published in the BU course catalog, must be on file with ISSO.

  3. Required for thesis/dissertation completion: (Graduate students only) An off-campus placement necessary to pursue graduate thesis or dissertation research that cannot be accomplished on campus and is required to complete the student’s degree program.

Qualifying Curricular Placement

CPT can only be authorized by the ISSO if the proposed internship, placement or employment (1) meets a curricular requirement of your program of study and (2) is directly related to your major field. A placement related to your minor field of study is not sufficient for CPT eligibility.

Employment or an internship placement that offers "excellent" or "relevant" experience to my field of study, but that does not meet a curricular requirement, does not qualify for CPT. Please refer to the section on Optional Practical Training for an alternative employment authorization.

Full Year of Study Requirement
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 your 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 versus Full-time CPT

If you are authorized for part-time CPT, you are authorized to work up to (but not exceeding) 20 hours per week in your CPT placement. Any work conducted beyond this authorization may constitute a violation of immigration status.

Full-time CPT authorization is required for any placement beyond 20 hours a week. With full-time CPT authorization there is no maximum number of permissible hours per week.

(a) Generally, only part-time CPT is available during semesters in which you are required to maintain full-time enrollment (a minimum of 12 credits or the equivalent)

(b) Full-time CPT authorization may be available if:

(a) The curricular placement for which CPT has been granted specifically requires authorization of more than 20 hours per week (For example: a practicum requiring 400 hours in one semester)

(b) CPT is authorized during a semester in which you are not required to be full-time (For example: summer term; final term with ISSO authorization for a Reduced Course Load)

(c) (Graduate students only) You have completed all course requirements and have been certified full-time in order to complete thesis, dissertation or research project requirements required for your degree.


Note: If you are authorized for an aggregate of 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you will lose eligibility for Optional Practical Training authorization. Less than 12 months of full-time CPT is not deducted from your OPT time.

Course Registration Requirement

CPT authorization requires registration in the concurrent semester.

(a) If your are requesting CPT as a requirement for a course, the course must be for credit.

(b) If you are requesting CPT as a requirement for your degree or a requirement for your dissertation/thesis, you must be appropriately registered for the curricular placement or the dissertation/thesis work. This registration can be zero credit, if appropriate to your school/college.

(c) If CPT is authorized for a semester, you must remain registered for the required CPT course for the entire semester or summer session for which the CPT authorization was granted.

(d) CPT authorized over the summer term, requires summer registration.

Employer and Date-Specific Authorization for CPT

CPT is authorized for a specific employer/placement company and location and you may not work for (or be placed at) any other employer during your authorization period without an amended CPT authorization from the ISSO. CPT authorization is also date specific and you may not begin work until the start date of the CPT authorization and must stop working on or before the end date of the authorization.

Work without Authorization

You may not lawfully begin your paid or unpaid curricular placement until an ISSO advisor has granted CPT authorization. To do so constitutes a serious violation of immigration status.


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.


Boston University
April 1, 2014

Boston University International Students & Scholars Office