Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

1. What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment that is directly related to your field of study, commensurate with your degree level, and is an integral part of an established curriculum. It is an internship, practicum, or other type of employment that is either required for the degree program or taken for credit toward the degree. You must be a full-time student for one full academic year before being eligible to start your CPT. CPT is available only before completion of studies.  

2. CPT for Undergraduate Students

CPT is only available to F-1 students when it is an integral part of an established curriculum. In practical terms, "integral part of an established curriculum" means an opportunity must be required by the curriculum or, if not required, the student must receive credit for the training. As per the Princeton University undergraduate curriculum, set by the Office of the Dean of the College, an internship is not required for the degree program and there are no undergraduate internship courses that can be taken for credit.  Therefore, Princeton University undergraduate students are not eligible to apply for CPT. Furthermore, undergraduate students are not permitted to register for graduate internship courses to fulfill the requirement for CPT. 

3. Summer CPT for Graduate Students

Summer CPT applications will be accepted by Davis IC starting on February 15th.
The following Princeton graduate academic programs require students to participate in a summer internship program after their first year of study:

  1. Master's in Public Affairs Program
  2. Master's in Finance 2-year program

The following PhD  and Master's programs at Princeton offer summer internship courses that qualify for CPT approval:

  • Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE 563)
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE 595)
  • Computer Science (COS 589)
  • Electrical Engineering (ELE 515)
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE 515)
  • Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORF 511)

The following PhD programs at Princeton offer summer internship courses that qualify for CPT approval:

  1. Applied Mathematics (APC 599)
  2. Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences (GEO/AOS 598)
  3. Chemistry (CHM 599)
  4. Economics (ECO 585)
  5. Geosciences (GEO/AOS 598)
  6. Mathematics (MAT 599)
  7. Music (510)
  8. Physics (PHY 580)
  9. Quantitative & Computational Biology (QCB 590)

4. Academic Year CPT for Graduate Students

The following PhD programs at Princeton offer internship courses during the academic year:

  1. Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE 596)  
  2. Computer Science (COS 590)
  3. Electrical Engineering (ELE 514) 
  4. Music (MUS 510)
  5. Philosophy (PHI 590)
  6. Physics (PHY 581) Fall 2018 only.

PLEASE NOTE: As per the Graduate School policy, PhD students moving to the master's track are NOT eligible to register for an internship course and, therefore, are not eligible to apply for CPT.

5. CPT Eligibility Criteria for Graduate Students

  • You must have been in lawful immigration status and a full-time student for at least one academic year.
  • If you are in DCE status, you are not eligible to apply for CPT. As per the Graduate School policy, students in DCE status are not eligible to register for courses; therefore, you may not enroll in CPT courses.
  • You are currently in F-1 status.
  • You have a job offer from a specific employer with established employment start and end dates. The job must be directly related to your field of study and commensurate with your degree level.
  • Self-employment is not permitted; a clear employer-employee relationship must exist. Please see the USCIS guidance regarding the employer/employee relationship. 
  • If you are a PhD student, your employment must be approved by both your academic advisor and the Graduate School. 
  • You may not begin your 2018 summer employment before Sunday, May 27. 
  • You must end your summer employment before/on September 11 (Academic Year 2018/19 starts September 12). 
  • If you are in the ELE, COS or CEE departments and wish to continue working after September 11, a new CPT application must be submitted to the Davis IC. Your fall semester employment must end before or on January 26, 2019.
  • You must register for the internship course and fulfill all the course requirements. For more information on course requirements, please consult with your Department. Note that registering for a course and fulfilling all course requirements is required by the F-1 immigration regulations in order to maintain your valid F-1 status.
  • If your department does not offer an internship course or does not require participation in the summer internship program, you can NOT take a course offered by another department. The course must be in the student's major department.

6. Applying for CPT (Graduate Students Only)

To apply for CPT, please submit  the following two items via the secure Davis IC DOCUPORT

1. Academic Advisor’s CPT Recommendation Form  This form must be completed by the student, then reviewed and signed by your academic advisor. If you are a PhD student, your employment must also be reviewed and approved by the Graduate School. 

2. A letter from your employer that MUST include:

  • Your job title
  • Precise start and end dates of your employment
  • Number of hours per week that you will be expected to work
  • The exact location of your employment, including: the entire address, street, city, state, and zip code
  • Brief, but detailed, description of the work you will be performing
  • Be on letterhead
  • We recommend that your employer use this template letter to issue your employment letter. The letter MUST contain all information listed on this template. If you wish to submit your offer letter instead, the letter must include all of the above plus your acceptance signature. Please note that the submission of an insufficient employment letter will delay the processing of your application.  

Processing time takes 10 (ten) business days. 

7. Important Information about CPT

  • CPT authorization is authorized by the Davis IC and will be noted on the second page of your I-20. You may not begin your employment before you have the endorsed I-20 from Davis IC and before the CPT start date noted on the I-20 Form.
  • CPT may be authorized for part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full-time (over 20 hours per week).
  • CPT authorization is granted for specific dates and for a specific employer. A new application is required if there is a change in employer. If the employer is not changing, but the location of employment is, you only need to submit an updated employment letter. For CPT extensions within the same term, only a new employment letter is needed. Please submit an updated employment letter through DocuPort.
  • Remember to update your local U.S. address information in TigerHub.
  • Use of full-time CPT for one year or more eliminates eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT). Use of part-time CPT does not affect eligibility for OPT. 
  • If your employer requires you to apply for a Social Security Number prior to starting your job, note that you may apply for a SSN up to 30 days prior to your CPT start date. In addition to other required documents necessary to apply for a SSN, you will also need your CPT I-20 and an employment letter.
  • If you have a CPT related question not covered here, send your inquiry to puvisa@princeton.edu. Please allow 48 hours for the response to your e-mail.