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Curricular Practical Training

What is CPT?

Purpose:  Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization for International students in
F-1 Student visa status.  CPT allows students to take an off-campus training/internship which is required by the major for a specific period of time

Length:  CPT is semester based and cannot exceed one year.  CPT will begin no earlier than the first day of instruction and must end no later than the last day of final exams for the semester.  Undergraduate students will be eligible starting Junior year; Graduate students will be eligible after one academic year.

Internship:  Students must enroll in an internship course. The internship course should be an integral part of students’ established curriculum. Please note not all majors at CSUSM have internship courses that corresponds to CPT.  Therefore, not all F-1 students at CSUSM are eligible for CPT

How to obtain CPT:  Students must request CPT authorization from the Office of Global Education- please complete the following steps and submit all documentation to Global Education at least 2 weeks prior to the anticipated start date of CPT:

  1. CPT Request Form online – please upload a valid letter from prospective employer/internship site stating terms of CPT as part of the form.
  2. Faculty Approval Form – complete with your faculty: include a purpose statement describing how your CPT will relate and be integral to your academic program.
  3. A copy of your class schedule showing full time enrollment or approved RCL courses. Your schedule must show the CPT approved course listed on the Faculty Approval Form.


You must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible to apply for CPT:

  • Be in valid F-1 status
  • Enrolled full-time. Minimum 12 units for undergraduate students or 9 units for graduate students.  You are also eligible to apply for CPT if you have approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).  Waitlisted classes will not be counted towards full time requirement
  • Fulfilled one year full-time requirement.  You must have been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year prior to submitting an CPT application.  One year enrollment may be fulfilled at CSUSM, a previous university, or between multiple universities
  • Be in good academic standing. Defined as a minimum G.P.A. of 2.0 (Undergraduate students) or 3.0 (Graduate students)
  • Internship offer letter IS required for CPT application process
  • Enroll in an internship, fieldwork, practicum, cooperative education or other course specifically designed for experiential or practical learning.  To find out if your major has internship requirements and internship class, speak to an academic advisor in your major department.  Please note:
    • The internship course must be in the same semester in which you are employed in the internship position

Compensation is not a consideration when determining whether an opportunity qualifies as CPT.  Any off-campus internship positions, whether paid or unpaid, requires CPT before you begin the employment. Under no circumstance can you begin working – not even as a volunteer – before your CPT is approved. Volunteering for a position which normally provides compensation is considered “employment” and is therefore not permitted without appropriate authorization.