Applying for CPT-IS

(Graduate Students Only)

Graduate students in Engineering who meet the USCIS eligibility criteria (see below) may apply for independent study (IS) academic credit for the purposes of F-1 curricular practical training (CPT). The procedure is as follows:

  1. Identify a faculty member who will serve as your “CPT-IS Supervisor.” Your CPT-IS Supervisor’s area of work and specialization should substantially overlap with your proposed internship work.
  2. Get the approval of that individual on a Proposal (2 pages max.) for the work you will do on your internship. Your proposal should:
    • Describe the tasks you will undertake.
    • Provide details of the technical content of your position/internship and how it relates to your degree program.
    • Describe 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 the EAS 897 is the required eleventh credit for the Master’s with Practicum degree program.
    • For evaluation, all students enrolled in CPT must provide a Mid-Point Progress Report and the Final Progress Report at the conclusion of the CPT to their supervisor and program. State that in the proposal that you will submit the Mid-Point and Final Progress Reports and briefly indicate to the best of your ability, items that might be covered in these two Reports.
  3. Your employer should provide an offer letter verifying support for the work you propose to do. The number of hours you will be working, start and end date of the employment, and the internship location must be stated in the letter. Your offer letter should be reviewed by your supervisor/advisor and your program coordinator & director.
  4. Submit the signed Application for CPT-IS Form, offer letter, and proposal to Office of Research and Academic Services for final review by the Associate Dean/designee. Please allow 3-5 business days for Engineering approval.
  5. Once step #4 is complete and you have received an email to verify Engineering’s approval, you will need to request CPT online through the International Student and Scholar Services using the online F-1 Curricular Practical Training Form. Once approved by Engineering, you are responsible to complete the iPenn curricular practical training (CPT) authorization request with Penn’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). Processing time by ISSS is typically 3-5 business days. Students cannot begin any work until they have received the CPT authorization from ISSS.

USCIS eligibility criteria: In order to be eligible for CPT-IS, 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-IS after a second term of full-time study.) If you have any questions regarding the CPT immigration status requirement, please meet with a graduate advisor familiar with Engineering’s CPT rules at ISSS. Engineering does not allow CPT in the student’s final/last semester. Students must also meet academic standards before they are allowed to register for any CPT course.

Please note the following:

Evaluation and grading: Your CPT-IS 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 sponsor may require some additional work beyond what was done during training, but the evaluation must be substantially based upon the training experience. All CPT-IS course registrations will be issued either an “S” grade or a “U” grade. No letter grades (impacting GPA) will be issued.

Mid-Point Progress Report: 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-IS Supervisor at the end of your CPT-IS period.

Course Registration: 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 897, and Ph.D. students will be registered for EAS 898.

Satisfying Degree Requirements, Tuition and Fees:

  • Master’s students who register for CPT-IS will be placed into the “Master’s with Practicum” degree. The CPT-IS course (EAS 897) will be a required 11th CU in completing the “Master’s with Practicum” degree. No tuition and fees will be charged for this option.
  • Ph.D. students must consult with their Faculty Advisor and Graduate Group Chair regarding how CPT-IS (EAS 898) 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-IS must be satisfactorily completed within the term for which the student has registered for CPT-IS. Failure to complete the CPT-IS 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.


Registering for more than one CPT-IS

  • Master’s degree students may NOT request a second  EAS 897 credit.  On very rare occasions, a Master’s student who wishes to obtain a second off-campus employment may apply for a part-time CPT with 599 Independent Study credit at 0.25 CU’s. This option carries tuition for the 0.25 CU of 599 and is only available if the student’s program allows it. Students must maintain full-time status of 3.0CU’s in courses, not counting the 0.25 CU of 599.  Refer to the following link for master’s students interested in pursuing CPT in Fall/Spring. The document provides guidelines on how to apply and restrictions.

The other option available to students is the full-time Academic Field Studies (AFS) track. More information can be found here.

  • For PhD students, EAS 898 is to be used for one semester only and cannot request a second EAS 898 credit. On a case-by-case basis, Ph.D. candidates may request additional enrollments in CPT if required to complete dissertation research. The student must only be enrolled only in 999 dissertation research for that term. Please refer to the following link for PhD students interested in pursuing a CPT while on dissertation.


Please note: Students enrolled in the Online CIT program are not permitted to take CPT.