Curricular Practical Training

What is CPT and OPT? (PowerPoint)

What is CPT?
CPT is an employment option available to F-1 students if the practical training (or employment) is considered to be an integral part of the curriculum or academic program. According to the immigration regulations, this employment - either paid or unpaid - may be an internship, or any other work experience that is either required for your degree (as defined in the course catalogue), or for which academic credit is awarded. 

What are the eligibility requirements for CPT at MHC?

  1. The student must be maintaining valid F-1 status.
  2. The student must have been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year.
  3. The employment must clearly be related to the student's major field of study. Students are not eligible for CPT until they have declared a major.
  4. CPT should not be utilized for a work experience or internship that is solely beneficial for career development.
  5. Students must enroll in the COLL 211f. course or arrange to do an independent study with practicum with a faculty member (either 295P or 395P) in the semester following your internship.  Failure to enroll in and complete the class or independent study is a violation of your legal status. It is the student's responsibility to fulfill all requirements for CPT. Please also note that students may only elect the COLL 211f. course one time.
  6. There is no limitation on the length of time you may participate in CPT, but if a student participates in twelve months or more of full-time CPT, that student will not be eligible for any type of optional practical training.
  7. Students who have already completed all requirements for their degree are not eligible for CPT.
  8. CPT can either be part-time or full-time based on the approval of the student's academic advisor and authorization by the McCulloch Center.
  9. Students may not enroll in the COLL 211f. class more than once.
  10. Students must obtain a separate endorsement for each CPT employer.
  11. The McCulloch Center has the right to deny a CPT request if there is not a clear connection to a student’s academic major.
  12. While on CPT, students are not allowed to work as an independent contractor for an employer

Since CPT is authorized only if the employment is directly related to a student's declared major, students should first consult with their major advisor or a faculty member in their major department at Mount Holyoke to discuss whether the secured internship meets this requirement. Students should then decide whether to enroll in an independent study with a practicum component (for academic credit) in which students reflect on how the internship/employment experience connects to the major, or whether students should elect COLL 211f: Tying Curriculum to Career in the fall semester immediately following the internship experience.  Once a student has found a faculty mentor at Mount Holyoke--required for supervision of an independent study with a practicum component--and the student has secured employment/an internship, the student must fill out the following application form:

Application for Curricular Practical Training with an Educational Plan

After a student has completed the application form, that student must make an appointment with Jenny Medina in the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. Students should make sure to bring both the completed CPT application form and the job offer letter to this appointment. The job offer letter must be on the employer's letterhead (we cannot accept emails from employers) and contain the job title, dates of employment, place of employment, and the supervisor's name for your internship. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is authorized by the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and does not require approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).  There is also no fee.  If the McCulloch Center approves a student's CPT application, a new I-20 will be issued to the student.  The employment authorization appears on page three of the new I-20.  Students must not continue employment beyond the date authorized. Any work undertaken after the expiration date of a student's CPT will be considered unauthorized employment.

VERY IMPORTANT: If a student begins studying abroad immediately after an internship experience, that student will not be able to elect COLL 211f.  Instead, that student must sign up for the independent study with practicum component (295P or 395P) in the semester following the student's return from study abroad.  Students who do not complete and receive a grade for the required independent study or COLL 211f. will not be able to apply for CPT again. There are absolutely no exceptions to this rule.