Practical Training and Employment

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as employment which is an integral part of an established curriculum, including: “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.” (8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)). CPT is work authorization for employment that is either required by a student’s curriculum or for a credit bearing course. CPT is not used for sustaining employment in the United States and those abusing CPT opportunities face serious consequences up to loss of F-1 visa status.

It is indicated in 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(10) that “practical training may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis, in a SEVP-approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year. 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(10)(i) asserts “an F-1 student may be authorized by a DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum.” Students who have received one or more years of full-time CPT at the same grade-level (i.e., bachelor, master, doctorate) are ineligible for post-completion OPT at that grade-level. Also, the one full academic year requirement may be waived under 8 CFR 214.2 (f)(10)(i) for students enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in CPT.”

The graduate capstone course MGT699 requires students to have gained professional experience aligned with their major course of study while enrolled in their MBA. Thus, students admitted into the 36-credit hour MBA are permitted to engage in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) immediately (day 1 CPT). Students are encouraged to look for CPT opportunities the moment that they enter their program.

Students are reminded that CPT authorizations are approved for those practical training opportunities that are directly aligned with the student’s major field of study. Students must have the full-time or part-time offer for practical training before they are permitted to apply for CPT authorization with a Designated School Official (DSO). Once authorized for CPT, students will be enrolled in MGT999 Graduate Professional Symposium which links to the program learning outcomes of the MBA and allows students to explore contemporary issues in their field of study and specialization while gaining practical training. The inquiry along with their practical experience in the field during CPT will be used to inform and develop their final project in MGT699 Capstone.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is 12-month work authorization available to F-1 students who are seeking employment opportunities in their fields of study. This training opportunity provides students the ability to gain practical training in their field of study. This work authorization gives students the ability to work off-campus and can be extended during or after completion of their program.

Types of OPT

There are two types of OPT recommended by United States University in include Pre-Completion OPT and Post-Completion OPT. Pre-Completion OPT is OPT used before a student’s program completion and includes both part-time and full-time work. Meanwhile, Post-Completion OPT is any portion of OPT used after the student’s program completion and must be full-time.

Eligibility Requirements for OPT

F-1 students at United States University must be in full-time F-1 status for at least one academic year to be eligible for OPT. Students must be seeking employment in the major field of study listed on their current I-20 form and be completing their program of study at United States University. F-1 students must be physically present in the United States at the time of application to USCIS and not have used more than one year of full-time CPT during their current degree-level [part-time does not count]. Because OPT is based on your completion date, you do not have to be employed at the time of application.

At United States University, one academic year means consecutive enrollment:

  • Summer I & Summer II – Fall I & Fall II
  • Fall I & Fall II – Spring I & Spring II
  • Spring I & Spring II – Summer I & Summer II

Any specific questions related to CPT or OPT can be directed to