Curricular Practical Training Guidelines

F-1 students studying at an SEVP-approved “college, university, conservatory, or seminary” may be eligible to seek authorization for practical training to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience directly related to their field of study.

The regulations state that a student may participate in a “curricular practical training program” that is “an integral part of an established curriculum” and “directly related to the student’s major area of study.” They define curricular practical training as “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.”

A good general principle is to approach CPT primarily from the curricular perspective, and only secondarily from the employment perspective. That is to say, the school’s curriculum, not the student’s desire for employment, should drive CPT policy development. CPT policies and procedures should be clearly established and then followed consistently.

(NAFSA Adviser’s Manual 360, 11/8/2019)

*CPT authorization is only necessary for internships completed within the United States – students approved to complete internship requirement in his/her home country during the summer term will not need a change to his/her status in SEVIS


  • Student must be enrolled on a full-time basis at GWU for one full academic year before being eligible for CPT – exception exists for graduate students whose programs require immediate curricular training for all students in the program
  • Transfer Students – Time spent studying at another institution many count toward the one year requirement – however, if a student leaves the US and returns on a new Initial I-20, the student cannot count the time spent at another school
  • CPT is available only while student is in F-1 status, before completion of the degree
  • Apply and receive a Social Security Number if the position is paid
  • Apply and be approved for CPT status with the DSO on campus by completing the application in full – student cannot begin internship until the CPT authorization is complete and a new I-20 document has been issued to the student
  • Application must be received by the DSO at least one month prior to the internship start date

Requirements of Acceptable Internships

  • Location – Students may engage in CPT only for the specific employer, location and period approved and recorded by the DSO in SEVIS
  • Duration – May be granted in increments of no more than one year – there is no cumulative maximum, but 12 months or more of full-time CPT eliminates eligibility for OPT
  • Hours per week – Student can be approved for part-time (20 hours or less) or fulltime (over 20 hours), but he or she must continue to maintain a full course of study in F-1 status during the period of employment (It is at the discretion of GWU to consider if a full-time internship may equal full-time enrollment.)
  • Documentation from CPT employer (internship sponsor) – signed cooperative agreement or letter that stated it will be cooperating with the school in achieving the curricular purposes of the internship
  • Student may begin internship after he or she has received an updated I-20 form from the DSO