Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

General Information

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.  

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.

Undergraduate Students

CPT for Undergraduate Students

Because CPT is only available to F-1 students when it is an integral part of an established curriculum, undergraduate students are only eligible for CPT if they have declared their concentration and their department offers the Internship Milestone Credit. If you are unsure if your department is offering this credit, please check with your Director of Undergraduate Studies. For more detailed information on the Internship Milestone Credit and FAQ, please visit the Office of the Dean of the College website.

CPT Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for CPT, the following criteria MUST be met:

  • You must be in F-1 immigration status and enrolled as a full-time student for at least two consecutive semesters prior to the CPT start date. Students resuming their programs after suspensions must be enrolled as full-time students for at least two consecutive semesters after their return from suspension prior to being eligible for CPT.
  • You must have declared your concentration prior to starting your CPT experience. BSE students can apply for CPT to commence after their first year of program. AB students are eligible to apply for CPT to begin the summer after their second year of study.
  • The Internship Milestone Credit must be available through the academic department of your concentration, and your particular application for the Milestone must be approved by your department prior to applying for CPT. You are not eligible to apply for CPT based on Milestone Credit available through other academic departments or through a certificate program. More detailed information about the Internship Milestone Credit  can be found on the Dean of the College website.
  • You must have an internship offer from a specific host organization/company with established start and end date. The earliest you may start a Summer 2020 internship is May 24th, and your internship must end on/prior to September 1st. As per the Dean of the College policy, your internship must be at least six (6) weeks in length.
  • You must fulfill all academic requirements attached to the internship credit as determined by your academic department. IMPORTANT NOTE: If a student does not fulfill this requirement or the department refuses to approve the internship credit following the completion of the internship (e.g. the student decides not to pursue the intended major), it could be considered a serious immigration violation.  The Davis IC would be required to terminate the student’s SEVIS record and the student would be required to depart the U.S., pay the SEVIS fee again, and apply for a new student visa before attempting to return to the U.S. to resume their program. However, it may be difficult to obtain a new visa and return to the U.S., and failure to comply with the CPT requirements could also have serious implications for other immigration benefits that the student may seek in the future (e.g. H1b visa, permanent residency, etc.)
  • After you complete the internship, you are required to follow-up with your academic department to ensure that all academic requirements are met and that you will receive an internship credit.
Application Process

The following documents are required in order for Davis IC to process your CPT authorization. IMPORTANT NOTE: Your CPT will not be approved until your international student advisor receives your complete application and issues an I-20 with the CPT authorization.

  • Registrar’s Summer Undergraduate Internship Milestone Credit Application. This form MUST be completed by you and approved by your director of undergraduate studies confirming that the proposed internship is directly related to your declared concentration and will qualify you for the Internship Milestone Credit. Please note that if Davis IC does not agree that your internship is directly related to your concentration, we reserve the right to reject your CPT application or request more information. When you take this form to your director for undergraduate studies for approval, you MUST also provide the internship offer letter (see below) for review. Your department will submit this form to the Registrar’s office, and they will forward the form to us.
  • An internship offer letter on letterhead that MUST include:
    • Title (e.g. intern, engineering intern, research intern, etc.)
    • Internship’s start and end dates
    • Full internship address
    • Supervisor’s name and contact information
    • Number of hours of work per week
    • A clear description of the internship, including regular duties. This description must be clear and concise so that your director for undergraduate studies is able to determine if and how the internship is directly related to your concentration. We can’t process your CPT without this information.
  • Curricular Practical Training Application for Undergraduate Students.  Review, complete and sign by the student the first page of the form.

Once we have received your Summer Undergraduate Internship Milestone Credit Application from the Registrar, we will notify you to make an appointment with your international student advisor. Your ISA will review your application for completeness, address all regulatory issues, answer any questions you have, and intake your application for final processing. Provided that your application is complete and meets the applicable requirements, you can expect your CPT I-20 to be ready 10 business days after the meeting with your advisor. NOTE: Please do not request a meeting with your advisor if your application is not complete. If you have any questions regarding the application, please email puvisa@princeton.edu or visit our office during drop-in hours

Graduate Students

CPT Eligibility Criteria
  • 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 2020 summer employment before Sunday, May 24. 
  • You must end your summer employment on or before September 1 (Academic Year 2020/2021 starts September 2). 
  • If you are in the ELE, COS or CEE departments and wish to continue working after September 1, a new CPT application must be submitted to the Davis IC.
  • Your fall 2019 semester employment must end before or on February 2, 2020.
  • 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 cannot take a course offered by another department. The course must be in the student's major department.
Summer CPT

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. Astrophysical Sciences (AST569)
  3. Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences (GEO/AOS 598)
  4. Chemistry (CHM 599)
  5. Economics (ECO 585)
  6. Geosciences (GEO/AOS 598)
  7. Mathematics (MAT 599)
  8. Music (510)
  9. Physics (PHY 580)
  10. Quantitative & Computational Biology (QCB 590)
Academic Year CPT

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)

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.

Applying for CPT

To apply for CPT, please log into TigerHub, and select the option to "Apply for an External Opportunity."

Please note that you will need to upload a letter from your employer that MUST include all of the follow information. If any of this information is missing or unclear, we will require that you obtain a new letter from your employer.

  • 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
  • Supervisor's name and contact information
  • 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. The information on the Advisor Recommendation Form and Employment Letter must match.

Davis International Center processing time takes 10 (ten) business days.