Explore UAB

Enrolled students who wish to participate in a required experience directly related to and required by their academic program must be authorized for Curricular Practical Training (“CPT”). Curricular Practical Training is employment which is an “integral” or required part of the curriculum for your major field of study, such as:

  • alternate work/study
  • internship
  • other required internship or practicum offered by sponsoring employers through written, established cooperative agreements with UAB (“co-op”)

pdfAcademic Programs Eligible for CPT (PDF)

Eligibility Requirements

You may qualify for CPT authorization if:

  • you are currently enrolled and in good academic standing,
  • you have completed at least 9 months of full-time study* in your academic program,
  • you will receive academic credit for the employment experience, and
  • your academic advisor signs off that the opportunity is an required part of your curriculum

*Degree-seeking students can count prior time enrolled in an accelerated Pathway towards the 9 months of full-time study eligibility for CPT. Students currently enrolled in Academic English or a Pathway program are not eligible for CPT. Graduate students required to obtain work experience during their first or second semester may meet with ISSS to discuss waiving the one-year enrollment requirement.

To apply for CPT, book an appointment with an ISSS international student advisor and bring the following documents with you to the appointment:

  • A job offer letter that includes: the employer’s address, supervisor’s name, employment start and end dates, identifying the position as full-time or part-time, and a brief job description. The letter should be on company letterhead.
  • A signed letter from your academic advisor confirming the employment is a required or integral part of your curriculum, the internship course number, job description, start and end dates, and whether the job is full-time or part-time.
  • Proof of enrollment in an internship, co-op, or practicum course on your UAB transcript.
  • A signed CPT pdfconfirmation of responsibility form.

ISSS will assess your eligibility and endorse your Form I-20 for either part-time or full-time CPT if the international student advisor verifies that the employment opportunity meets CPT requirements.

*Students on CPT who have additional on-campus employment are still limited to a total of 20 hours of employment per week during academic semesters.* CPT must end before you complete your program of study.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT

Part-Time Training

USCIS considers employment of 20 hours or fewer per week to be part-time. Your Form I-20 should specify permission to engage in part-time training, and you must be careful to limit your work to no more than 20 hours per week. There is no limitation on the length of time you may participate in part-time CPT, however you MUST renew each semester and you must remain enrolled full-time in classes (12 hours for undergraduates, 9 hours for graduates) in order to maintain your lawful F-1 status.

Full-Time Training

USCIS considers employment of more than 20 hours per week to be full-time. Your Form I-20 should specify permission to participate in full-time training, but ISSS will approve full-time CPT only during a vacation semester or for a UAB-sponsored co-op program. If you participate in more than 12 months of full-time CPT, you will not be eligible for post-completion Optional Practical Training (“OPT”).

Application and Authorization Procedures

Contact ISSS for evaluation of both your academic situation and the proposed CPT employment opportunity to make certain that both you and the job meet the eligibility requirements. ISSS must reprint your Form I-20 from the SEVIS database to authorize CPT. Do not begin employment until ISSS authorizes CPT and issues you a new I-20. Violation of this condition will result in the immediate revocation of your authorization and termination of your I-20. Do not continue working beyond the date stated on the third page of your I-20 unless you apply for and receive an extension of your CPT work authorization from an international student advisor in the ISSS office.

Curricular Practical Training FAQs

  • What kinds of classes do I register for in order to receive CPT authorization?

    The most common types of credit hours for CPT approval are:

    • Internship hours
    • Practicum hours
    • Practical Work Experience
    • Co-op education hours
    • Dissertation hours (Ph.D. students only)

    Contact your academic advisor to inquire about specific work experience or internship hours available in your program of study. Some departments charge tuition for 0-hour internship or practicum courses, and others do not. Those rules are set by individual programs and departments; ISSS cannot reverse a department’s decision to charge tuition for 0-hour classes.

  • When should I apply for CPT?

    Book an appointment with an international student advisor in ISSS at least one month before you are scheduled to begin the training or internship program. ISSS approves CPT in semester increments, but you can start your work experience one week before the academic semester begins and complete it one week after the academic semester ends.

    If your program requires CPT for more than one semester, you must complete the approval process again with a new offer letter, new advisor recommendation, and new registration for transcript hours.

  • I already have an on-campus job. Can I still request CPT?

    Yes, but if the CPT opportunity is required during an academic semester (traditionally fall and spring) your total work hours for both jobs must not exceed 20 hours per week. However, if you are able to participate in CPT during an official “vacation” semester, full-time CPT can be approved so that you can work more than 20 hours per week.

  • Is full-time CPT an option?

    As stated previously, full time CPT can be approved during a vacation semester. PhD students enrolled in dissertation hours who are required to participate in an internship or practicum opportunity to complete vital research for their dissertation may also qualify for full-time CPT. Please book an appointment with ISSS to discuss your specific situation.

  • How many times I can be authorized for CPT?

    ISSS will authorize CPT in accordance with the number and frequency of internships or practical work experience required by or integral to your degree program. You must always receive academic credit for the CPT experience towards your degree, and since CPT is based on a student's degree curriculum, it is only approved on a semester by semester basis. *CPT cannot be used during your final semester to fill an employment gap until you received your post-completion OPT EAD card or find an OPT employer. The CPT employment end date must be stated on the offer letter.* If you accumulate 12 months or more of full-time CPT during your degree program, you will not be eligible to apply for post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization.

    If you wish to pursue employment that is not required by your degree program and which will not appear on your transcript, you should meet with ISSS about applying for pre-completion OPT work authorization.

  • My degree program does not require internship or practicum hours. Can I still apply for CPT?

    Unfortunately, no. CPT employment must directly relate to your curriculum, and you must receive academic credit. If you cannot use CPT, ask ISSS about applying for pre-completion OPT.

Back to Top