FAQs – Curricular Practical Training


What is CPT?

CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training and is the name of the work authorization available to F-1 students in good status and good academic standing to engage in an off-campus internship.

What is Co-op?

Co-op is an abbreviation of “Cooperative Education”. Co-op is a part of the Career Development Center and facilitates students obtaining valuable work experiences as part of their academic program. The Co-op staff not only helps students in their search and preparation, but also establishes and maintains relationships with employers so that they will continue to recruit NC State students for their job openings.

Does participation in CPT affect my eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

It can. If you engage in more than 11 months and 29 days of full time CPT, you become ineligible for OPT. Please note that this only applies to FULL-time CPT, not part-time CPT.

What is the difference between CPT and pre-completion OPT?

CPT and pre-completion OPT are both work authorization which you can use before you finish your degree program.  Pre-completion OPT can be used for work/training which is directly related to your field of study, but is not necessarily a requirement for your degree program.  Any pre-completion OPT is deducted from your total 12 months of available OPT.  (Please note that OPT is adjudicated by USCIS and the application time can average 2-4 months).

Do I need a job offer to apply for CPT?


I have met all of my degree requirements in the Fall semester, but I will not receive my actual degree certificate until the end of the Spring semester. Can I engage in CPT in the Spring semester?

As soon as you have met all of your degree requirements, your F-1 student status ends. You are no longer eligible to continue enrollment and therefore no longer eligible for CPT.  To be authorized for work past your program date as a F-1, you must apply for and obtain work authorization through OPT.

I changed my major effective in the Spring semester. I would also like to engage in CPT in the Spring semester. Am I eligible?

No, you have to have been a full time student in your new major field for at least 1 semester before being able to base CPT on that major field of study (exceptions can be granted if it is determined that there is significant overlap between the degree fields; for example changing from ISE to IMSE, or from Computer Engineering to Computer Networking).


When should I apply for CPT?

We recommend that you apply for CPT as early as possible. Each semester, we generally begin accepting applications the same day the university registration/enrollment period for the consecutive semester opens. Please refer to the CPT website where we will post each semester’s application dates.

How much time will I need to complete the CPT application process?

Please allow 2-3 weeks for processing after submitting completed application materials to CDC. You will receive a notification email once the application has been transferred over to OIS, then another once the I-20 is ready for pickup.  If OIS needs to correspond with you during the review process, an advisor will send you an email directly.  Otherwise, please do not make status inquiries with OIS, as this only slows the review process for all.

How should I apply for CPT?

Please refer to the step-by-step instructions outlined on the main CPT page.

Can I request CPT without the recommendation and approval of my academic advisor/DGP?

No.  CPT is an academic work authorization and therefore it is required that you obtain approval for your proposed work/training from your academic advisor (your DGP if you are a graduate student).

Can I request CPT without my employer signing Page 2 of the CPT Application Form [for Employers]?

No.  CPT cannot be authorized unless the employer has signed off in agreement to abide by the terms and expectations indicated on Page 2.  If an employer cannot do this, then there are two, university-approved, alternate versions of this page available.  Some version of this page MUST be signed by the employer in order for the student to participate in Curricular Practical Training.

If I am authorized for part time CPT, can I switch half way through my internship to full time?

No. Your CPT authorization is issued for one semester and your course registration is adjusted as a result. You cannot switch during your internship, because your course registration cannot be changed at that time. You must maintain full time enrollment.

What details must my job offer letter contain?

Your job title, job description, salary, start and end dates, number of hours you will work per week and your actual physical work address.  If you will be working remotely, your offer letter must state that the work will be performed remotely and include the remote work location.

Can I apply for multiple semesters of CPT at once?

No. CPT is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis. Each semester OIS must determine your academic standing and your eligibility for CPT.

Can I request CPT if my GPA is below the requirement (3.0 for graduate students, 2.5 for undergraduate students)?

No.  Your GPA must meet the minimum requirement in order to be approved for participation in CPT.

What course should I register for during my CPT semester?

Your Co-op Coordinator will advise you on which COP course to take during your CPT semester. Graduate students will register for COP 500 if they are working full-time (more than 20 hrs /week) or COP 501 if they are working part-time (20 hrs/week or less).


How many hours per week constitutes part time employment?

Part time employment is employment for up to 20 hours per week.

Can I work more than 40 hours per week if I am authorized for full-time CPT?

Yes, during the summer term.  Full-time employment is defined by USCIS as employment for more than 20 hours per week. (Even though USCIS does not restrict you from working more than 40 hours, labor laws and insurance-related university policies may prohibit this, so please check with your employer to make sure you are in compliance).

When can I start working on CPT?

As soon as you have received your new I-20 with CPT work authorization from OIS and the CPT start date on page 2 of your I-20 has arrived.

Can I work 20 hours per week on my graduate assistantship and 20 hours per week on CPT during the Spring or Fall semester?

No, during the regular academic semester, you are allowed up to 20 hours per week of employment in addition to your studies. These 20 hours can be either CPT or on-campus employment, or a combination of both, but the total employment cannot exceed 20 hours per week. (Note: If you have been approved for Full-time CPT as a required part of your degree program during a Fall or Spring semester, you cannot work on-campus in addition to your full time off-campus employment).

Can I work on-campus and off-campus at the same time during the summer semester?

The summer semester is considered a vacation term (provided you are enrolled for the Fall semester and the summer is not your final semester) and so the normal 20 hour employment restriction described above does not apply.

How do I get my S (Satisfactory) grade for the COP course?

In order to get your grade posted for the COP course, you must submit a post-work report with your advisor’s signature (or DGP) to the Co-op Office. The post-work report is a two-page report that documents your experience during the training period.