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Curricular Practical Training

What is CPT?

Purpose:  Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a temporary employment authorization for International students in F-1 Student visa status.  CPT allows students to take an off-campus training/internship which is required by the major for a specific period of time

Length:  CPT is semester based.  CPT will begin no earlier than the first day of instruction and must end no later than the last day of final exams for the semester

Internship:  Students must enroll in an internship course. The internship course should be an integral part of students’ established curriculum. Please note not all majors at CSUSM have internship courses that corresponds to CPT.  Therefore, not all F-1 students at CSUSM are eligible for CPT

How to obtain CPT:  Students must request CPT authorization from the Office of Global Education. CPT is granted by F1 International Student Advisors at CSUSM


You must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible to apply for CPT:

  • Be in valid F-1 status
  • Enrolled full-time. Minimum 12 units for undergraduate students or 9 units for graduate students.  You are also eligible to apply for CPT if you have approved Reduced Course Load (RCL).  Waitlisted classes will not be counted towards full time requirement
  • Fulfilled one year full-time requirement.  You must have been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year prior to submitting an CPT application.  One year enrollment may be fulfilled at CSUSM, a previous university, or between multiple universities
  • Be in good academic standing. Defined as a minimum G.P.A. of 2.0 (Undergraduate students) or 3.0 (Graduate students)
  • Internship offer letter IS required for CPT application process
  • Enroll in an internship, fieldwork, practicum, cooperative education or other course specifically designed for experiential or practical learning.  To find out if your major has internship requirements and internship class, speak to an academic advisor in your major department.  Please note:
    • The internship course must be in the same semester in which you are employed in the internship position

Compensation is not a consideration when determining whether an opportunity qualifies as CPT.  Any off-campus internship positions, whether paid or unpaid, requires CPT before you begin the employment. Under no circumstance can you begin working – not even as a volunteer – before your CPT is approved. Volunteering for a position which normally provides compensation is considered “employment” and is therefore not permitted without appropriate authorization.