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F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT work authorization is required for all paid, full or part-time training off-campus.

F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may be authorized when an internship is a required component of a student’s curriculum. When an internship is not required, a student must be able to demonstrate that it is integral to their course of study by enrolling in a degree-applicable internship or co-op type course within their major. Unit credit earned for this course must count towards the units needed to graduate.

CPT Work Authorization

CPT work authorization is required for all paid, full or part-time training experiences off-campus. CPT should also be authorized for unpaid internships. Note that full-time CPT is only available during the summer term, except for internships which are required for the major.

CPT is only possible before completing your degree, and you must continue to enroll in classes to make progress toward completing degree requirements (taking one or more quarters off during fall, winter, or spring for an internship is not allowed). CPT can only be authorized for one quarter at a time, and employment dates should match the quarter start and end dates.

Note: CPT is not intended for ongoing employment. Payment as an Independent Contractor is also not appropriate for CPT. If your internship does not qualify for CPT, you may consider applying for pre-completion Optional Practical Training, as an alternative.


  • Full-time enrollment in F-1 visa status for a minimum of one academic year at Cal Poly
  • Good academic standing
  • Continue to make normal progress toward degree completion. CPT is not possible if it will delay your graduation date
  • Able to earn unit credit for your major in a Co-op or internship type course
  • Enrolled in a minimum of 12 units during fall, winter, or spring quarters. Can be enrolled in less than 12 units for the 10 weeks of summer term to earn unit credit for the internship
  • CPT is not available during a student’s final quarter

How to Apply

  • Obtain a job offer letter on the employer’s letterhead that includes the following:
    • Start and end dates of employment
    • Paid or unpaid position
    • Part-time (must state 20 hours or less) or full-time
    • Full address of employer
    • Brief description of job duties
    • Signature of your employer
  • Provide your offer letter to your advisor and meet to discuss course enrollment and relevance to your major
  • For any in-person internships, obtain and complete the required COVID-19 paperwork with the assistance of your advisor. The paperwork and guidelines established by Cal Poly and the Chancellor’s Office can be found under Required Paperwork.
  • Enroll in the course approved by your advisor
  • Login to the International Student Hub to access the CPT application instructions and application form.
    • Detailed instructions are included in within the application.
    • You will use the same form to request an official recommendation from your advisor.
  • Once your application is complete, CPT typically only takes 1-2 business days to authorize. You will be contacted once your CPT has been processed.

If you have questions during any part of the process, you may schedule a meeting with an International Student Advisor by emailing International Services