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What is CPT?


Work and Study Curricular Practical Training

CPT, or Curricular Practical Training, gives international students authorization to gain employment training and to work in paid internships positions. Students have a chance to work full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part-time (20 hours or less per week) earning money in US dollars and gain work experience in their area of interest.

Many colleges and universities offer Work Study programs only to their domestic students since it is largely paid for with federal funding. Since schools cannot provide federal financial aid to international students, payment must be made out of the budget from the office on campus or by a private organization. Because of this, the number of work study options may be far and few between.

To confront this, these CPT Work Study programs provide students with the support to acquire a paid position on campus or off campus. Not only that, but many of them have been designed to allow students to begin working as early as the first year.

On Campus Employment

International students are legally able to work on campus part-time, which is considered 20 hours a week or less. These programs allow students to begin working during their first semester enrolled in classes.

Off Campus Employment

The majority of Work Study CPT programs offer employment or paid internships off campus. Students are able to work a minimum of 40 hours a week.

Graduate students are able to begin working off campus in their first year as long as their university:

  • mandates employment as a required component of the curriculum
  • requires their employment to begin immediately

As long as students meet the above requirements, students can arrive and begin working during their first semester. All other students will need to wait until after their first year to begin working.

Keep in mind that your CPT must be work training that is necessary to complete a degree program. Not all degree programs will have required CPT, but it’s often found in practical courses such as business and engineering where students can learn more putting their studies into practice in the workplace. Required CPT can be either paid or unpaid, with many competitive companies not providing a salary as the experience itself will look excellent on your resume.

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