Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is temporary employment authorization for internship opportunities directly related to your major at Cal Poly. CPT can 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 an internship or co-op type course within their major. Unit credit earned for this course must count towards a student's degree program.

  • CPT is not intended for ongoing employment
  • Full-time internships are only allowed during summer term unless the internship is specifically listed as a degree requirement
  • CPT authorization is required for all paid, full or part-time training experiences off-campus. CPT should also be authorized for unpaid internships.
  • Employment dates should match the quarter start and end dates. For Fall 2020, this is September 14 - December 4.
  • Payment as an Independent Contractor is not appropriate for CPT.
  • CPT is only possible before completing your degree.
  • 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 a full-time internship is not allowed).
  • CPT requires a recommendation from your academic advisor explaining how the training is directly related and integral to your degree program.
  • CPT requires enrollment in an appropriate course in your major – this is typically a Co-op course that requires you to be gaining experience off-campus instead of attending weekly class meetings on-campus.
  • CPT can only be authorized for one quarter at a time.


  • Full-time enrollment in F-1 visa status for a minimum of one academic year at Cal Poly or another college/university
  • Completion of 3 quarters at Cal Poly is strongly preferred
  • Good academic standing: 2.0 or higher GPA for undergraduates / 3.0 or higher for graduate students
  • 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.

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 where you will be working
    • Brief description of job duties
    • Signature of your employer
  • Bring your offer letter to a meeting with your advisor to discuss course enrollment and relevance to your major
  • Enroll in the course approved by your advisor
  • Access the CPT application instructions and application form.
    • Detailed instructions are included in the "Learning Content" that you will complete within the application.
  • 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

Once Hired

CPT must be authorized by the International Center before you can legally begin or extend 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 the 10-week summer session dates. You will be issued a new I-20 which you will need to pick up from the International Center and show your employer. Do not discard your previous I-20s.

Note: 12 months or more of full-time CPTauthorization during your degree program will make you ineligible for any of the 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for that degree. This may include any full-time CPT done at a Community College when you transfer to Cal Poly to complete your Bachelor’s degree. Part-time CPT does not impact eligibility for OPT.