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 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?
To be eligible for curricular practical training, you must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year, you must have a declared major, your job offer must be related to your major, and you must complete either an independent study with a practicum component or COLL 211f: Tying Curriculum to Career (2 credits) in the fall following your internship. Note that if you apply for CPT multiple times, COLL 211f. can only be taken *once* following one of your internships.
What is the difference between Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?
OPT is defined as "temporary employment in your field of study," so it may be used only for work that is related to your declared major at Mount Holyoke. F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of OPT throughout their Bachelor's degree studies. These twelve months can be divided as you wish (for example, three months in the summer, followed by nine months after graduation). You must apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and pay an application fee of $380.00 (the fee is $340.00 until 11/23/10). You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT, but you may not begin work until your OPT application has been approved by USCIS and you have received the EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card. For more details, see the Optional Practical Training page on the Global Initiatives web site.
CPT is also defined as "temporary employment in your field", but the employment must be directly related to your declared major (not minor). In addition, you must either take COLL 211f: Tying Curriculum to Career in the fall semester following your internship, OR earn at least one academic credit by completing an independent study with a practicum component supervised by a faculty mentor who teaches at Mount Holyoke. You may apply for CPT through the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and there is no application fee. As soon as your application is approved by the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, you will be authorized to begin working. You may apply for CPT as often as you wish, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements (see above).
Important: The time you spend doing CPT will not be deducted from your twelve months of allowable OPT (Optional Practical Training) UNLESS you use 12 months or more of full-time CPT. If you work 20 hours or less per week while you are enrolled for classes that is considered part-time CPT. The employment authorization page of your I-20 will specify permission to engage in part-time training and you must limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in part-time curricular practical training cumulatively, but you must be enrolled as a full-time student in order to maintain lawful F-1 status. Note that you must have a job offer prior to applying for CPT and your CPT authorization will be employer and date specific.
Applying for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Since CPT is authorized only if your employment is directly related to your declared major, you should first consult with your major advisor or a faculty member in your major department at Mount Holyoke to discuss whether you should do an independent study with a practicum component (for academic credit) in which you reflect on how your internship/employment experience connects to your academic studies in the field, or whether you should take COLL 211f: Tying Curriculum to Career in the fall semester immediately following your internship experience. Once you have found a faculty mentor at Mount Holyoke--required for supervision of an independent study with a practicum component--and you have secured employment/an internship, you will need to fill out the following application form:
After you have completed the application form, make an appointment to meet with Jenny Medina in the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. Please make sure to bring both your completed CPT application form and your job offer letter to the appointment. 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). A new I-20 will be issued to you denoting employment authorization on page three. You must not continue employment beyond the date authorized. Any work undertaken after the expiration date of your CPT will be considered unauthorized employment.
VERY IMPORTANT: Students engaged in CPT during the summer will need to register for and complete either COLL 211f or an independent study with a practicum component (295P or 395P during the fall semester following their internship/employment experience). If you are studying abroad immediately after your internship experience, then you cannot sign up for COLL 211f. Instead, you must sign up for the independent study with practicum component (295P or 395P) in the semester following your 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.