Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Graduate students in Engineering who meet the USCIS eligibility criteria may apply for academic credit for the purposes of F-1 curricular practical training (CPT). In order to be eligible for CPT, you must have already completed one academic year (September to May) of course work, full-time at Penn, but have not completed all of your degree requirements. (Note: A student beginning their program in January would be able to register for CPT after a second term of full-time study.) Students must finish at least 6 course units, not including the ‘EAS 8960: Master’s Professional Development’ course and meet academic standards before they are allowed to register for any CPT course.
If you have any questions regarding the CPT immigration status requirements, please email your ISSS advisor (listed on the iPenn page when you log in). Questions on the academic side for Engineering can be directed to your program and/or Tori (if your program cannot answer it). Please note Summer 2023 CPT documents cannot be processed before April 12.


Procedure/steps (to be completed in order):

1. Obtain an offer letter from an employer that will verify the work you will do. The number of hours you will be working, the start and end date of the employment, and the internship location (onsite physical address or stating remote) must also be listed in the letter. The start date must start on or after the term begins, and the end date must end prior to the start of the next term. (Example: Summer internships must start after the last day of the Spring term and must end before the first day of the Fall term.)
Talk with your program/department coordinator about CPT at this point, as many will guide you through this process.


2. Identify a faculty member who will serve as your CPT Supervisor. Your supervisor’s area of work and specialization should substantially overlap with your proposed internship work.
Master’s students: In most cases, the supervisor is your program director. If this is the case, many coordinators will let you send the documents to them to process with the director. If the supervisor is different than your director, once you receive the supervisor’s approval and signature, you can send to your coordinator for assistance in obtaining your director’s signature.
PhD students: Typically the supervisor is your advisor. Upon receiving your advisor/supervisor’s signature, please send to your coordinator for assistance in obtaining your chair’s signature.

However, if it is not the named person above in that role, it can be another faculty member as well in that student’s department/program. Please review with your program coordinator/program admin if you’re unsure.


3. Send the Engineering application CPT Form, employer’s offer letter, and your proposal to the supervisor, all as one .pdf file. Please copy your program coordinator/program admin for their review.
The proposal (2 pages maximum) must include the following: Describe the tasks you will undertake, providing details of the technical content of your position/internship and how it relates to your degree program; how the employment is an integral part of your studies; list courses you’ve taken as a graduate student and how the position/internship will provide valuable hands-on experience in conjunction with these courses; state that you will submit the Mid-Point and Final Progress Reports (details on the report below).


4. If your supervisor is different from your program director/grad chair, upon receipt of your approved and signed documents by your supervisor, please send the document to your program coordinator/admin to ask for help in getting the chair/director’s signature. They will assist with this step or let you know how you can easily obtain it.


5. Programs/departments should submit the final signed document to the Graduate Academic Service Office after the director/chair reviews and signs. If your program returns the CPT documents to you directly, please submit the Application for CPT Form, offer letter, and proposal to your program admin for final review. It will then be sent to Tori for school processing. Please allow 5-7 business days for Engineering’s review of all documents. If anything further is needed you will be informed.
Upon final approval as indicated above from Engineering, you will be registered for course credit during the term of the CPT. Master’s students will be registered for EAS 8970, and Ph.D. students will be registered for EAS 8980.


6. Once step #5 is complete, you will receive an email to verify Engineering’s approval with the next steps you will need for requesting CPT online through International Student and Scholar Services using the online F-1 Curricular Practical Training Form. Do NOT complete this step until given approval by Tori via email. Processing time by ISSS is typically up to 5 business days. Students cannot begin any work until they have received the CPT authorization from ISSS.


7. PhD students are required to alert PEFS payroll of internships for stipend reasons. As soon as you receive Engineering’s approval email, please complete the Payroll form here. You may contact with specific questions on this process.



Additional Information

Processing delays: The CPT process can take up to two weeks for processing during the busiest times. Multiple offices and staff are reviewing your CPT at different stages. If all documents are in order sometimes it can take as little as five business days for processing. Please plan accordingly and give yourself at least a two week window prior to your start date to get all documents in and reviewed/approved on time.

Evaluation and grading: Your CPT Supervisor will need to evaluate your work done either based on periodic reports submitted by you while undergoing the CPT, or based on such reports immediately after your return from the training. Note that your supervisor may require some additional work beyond what was done during training, but the evaluation must be substantially based upon the training experience. All CPT course registrations (EAS 8970 Masters, EAS 8980 PhD) will be issued either an “S” grade or a “U” grade. No letter grades (impacting GPA) will be issued.

Reports: You are required to submit a completed “Mid-Point Progress Report” during your CPT period, as well as your submission of materials as specified in your detailed proposal to your CPT Supervisor. At the end of your of CPT, you must also turn in a “Final Report.” Please talk with your program coordinator/admin as to where the reports are to be sent, length and formatting of documents, deadline,etc. as each program handles this differently.

Registration timing: Students must finish at least 6 course units and meet academic standards before they are allowed to register for any CPT course. Please note: Engineering does not allow CPT in the student’s final/last semester.

Tuition and Fees:
Master’s students who register for CPT will be placed into the the CPT course, EAS 8970, as the required 11th CU (12th CU for BIOT) in completing the CPT. No tuition and fees will be charged for this option.
PhD students must consult with their Faculty Advisor and Graduate Group Chair regarding how CPT, EAS 8980, may be used to satisfy degree requirements. No tuition and fees will be charged for this option.

Requirement to Complete: All academic requirements for CPT must be satisfactorily completed within the term for which the student has registered for CPT. Failure to complete the CPT academic requirements would render your employment “unauthorized” and be a violation of your immigration status. For any student who gets a “U” grade, such sanctions may include forfeiture of the post-graduation OPT allotment and the possibility of working in the United States on any other visa.

Students enrolled in the Engineering Online Learning programs are not permitted to take CPT.

Registering for more than one CPT

Master’s students:

Single degree master’s students may NOT request a second EAS 8970 credit.  Students wishing to pursue a full-time CPT in Fall should review the Academic Field Studies (AFS) here. Dual-degree Master’s students (within Engineering) are allowed two CPTs; one for each master’s program in consecutive Summers. A student cannot do two CPTs under only one program.
BIOT students in the Molecular Biology track requiring 5990 with a CPT for that track’s completion should talk directly with the biotech program.


PhD students:

For PhD students, EAS 8980 is to be used for one semester only and cannot request a second EAS 8980 credit.
On a case-by-case basis, PhD candidates may request additional enrollments in CPT if required to complete dissertation research. The student must only be enrolled only in 9990 dissertation research for that term. For additional Summer CPTs, students must be enrolled full-time in 9990 for both the Spring before and Fall after to carry them through the Summer term.  The dissertation credit must be linked to any on going CPT requests, that may last for multiple semesters. The student will upload a letter from their faculty advisor stating how the proposed internship/work is an integral part of the established academic curriculum; and how the dissertation cannot be completed without this CPT work. This letter must be given to Graduate Engineering with all CPT documents (in the steps above) and to ISSS (through the iPenn system).

SEAS/ISSS will authorize ongoing, full or part-time, dissertation CPT on a semester by semester basis. However, the advisor’s letter and company offer letter could cover a whole year of ongoing CPT and students may use that same letter for the multiple CPT requests. (Example: January 25- December 1, 2023). Each semester, the student will need to follow Engineering’s CPT procedure and complete the iPenn CPT eform for ISSS.
Please note that students on 9950 dissertation are not permitted to be on CPT. Students cannot be on CPT in their final semester and no CPT can be used for work authorization before post-completion OPT in the student’s final semester.


PhD and Master’s students: Pre-Completion OPT may be available for some part-time jobs still in line with the student’s degree. Please talk with your ISSS advisor directly if you’re interested in learning more about this option.