Cal Poly

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)


The purpose of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is to gain experience directly related to your major. CPT work authorization is required for all paid or non-paid, part or full-time employment/internships. CPT requires a recommendation from your academic advisor and enrollment in an appropriate course in your major. The internship requires you to work off-campus instead of attending weekly class meetings on-campus.

CPT must be authorized by the International Center before you can legally begin employment or continue with another quarter of CPT employment. 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 can be processed very quickly.

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.

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  • 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. CPT should not delay your end date on your I-20

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How to Apply

  1. Email the International Center to ask for a CPT appointment to determine your eligibility and to review your offer letter if you already have one
  2. Obtain a signed employment/internship offer letter on company letterhead that lists the following:
    • Start and end dates of employment (prior approval is required if the dates are not within the quarter you are enrolled in the internship/Co-Op course)
    • Paid or unpaid position
    • Part-time or full-time
    • A brief description of the job duties
    • Address of where you will be working
    • Supervisor’s name, phone number and e-mail
  3. Meet with your academic advisor. Ask your advisor to review your offer letter. If they approve of your internship, ask them to send an e-mail to the International Student Advisor you are working with and copy you on the email. The advisor’s e-mail should include the following:
    • Explain how the internship/training at (company name) is related to your current degree program, and how this experience will enhance your education
    • List the term, course title and number of the course, and describe how the training meets the course requirements
    • Confirm that pursuing this internship will not delay your graduation
  4. Register for the course recommended by your academic advisor for the quarter that you will be authorized to work. Full-time enrollment in 12 units for undergraduate, or 8 units for graduate students during fall, winter, or spring quarters even when only enrolling for a full-time internship class. Part-time enrollment is allowed during the summer or a vacation quarter
  5. Follow-up by email with the International Student Advisor about obtaining your CPT I-20

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Social Security Card

If your internship is paid and you don’t already have a Social Security Card, you will need to apply for one. Please review our Social Security webpage on how to apply.

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© 2015 California Polytechnic State University Cal Poly International Center
Building 52, Room E32
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Phone: (805) 756-1477
Fax: (805) 756-5484