Applying for CPT
(Graduate Engineering Students Only)
Graduate students in Engineering who meet the USCIS eligibility criteria may apply for independent study (IS) academic credit for the purposes of F-1 curricular practical training (CPT). 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.) Students must finish at least 6 course units, not including the ‘EAS 896: Master’s Professional Development’ course. Students must also meet academic standards before they are allowed to register for any CPT course. Engineering does not allow CPT in the student’s final/last semester.
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 Tori.
Please note Summer 2021 CPT’s cannot be processed until on or after advanced registration begins. Do not send a Summer 2021 CPT until after March 22.
The CPT procedure is as follows:
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.)
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. Typically this person is the masters student’s program director or PhD student’s advisor. However, it can be another faculty member as well in that student’s department/program.
3. Send the Engineering application CPT-IS Form, employer’s offer letter, and your proposal to the supervisor 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.
- 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. (Twelfth credit for Biotechnology Master’s students.)
- 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.
Please do talk with your program/department coordinator about CPT at this point, as many will guide you through this process. You can even copy them on the email you send to the CPT supervisor.
- 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.
4. If your program coordinator isn’t involved yet, upon receipt of your approved and signed documents by your supervisor and director/chair, please send all documents as one pdf file to your program coordinator.
5. Most programs/departments will have the program coordinator submit the final documents to the Research and Academic Services (RAS) Office on your behalf after the director/chair reviews and signs. This is the preferred method. However, if your program returns the CPT documents to you directly, please submit the Application for CPT-IS Form, offer letter, and proposal to Tori in RAS for final review. 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 897, and Ph.D. students will be registered for EAS 898.
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. Once given approval by Engineering for your CPT, 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 up to 5 business days. Students cannot begin any work until they have received the CPT authorization from ISSS.
Please note the following:
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 897 Masters, EAS 898 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 as to where the reports are to be sent, length and formatting of documents, deadline,etc. as each program handles this differently.
Satisfying Degree Requirements, Tuition and Fees:
- Master’s students who register for CPT will be placed into the “Master’s with Practicum” degree. The CPT course (EAS 897) will be a required 11th CU (12th CU for BIOT) 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 (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.
Students enrolled in the Online CIT program are not permitted to take CPT.