Curricular Practical Training- Work and study in USA

Ashikavinod | Thursday, September 22, 2016 2:35 PM IST

Work and Study Curricular Practical Training

CPT, or Curricular Practical Training, gives international students authorization to gain employment training and to work in paid internships positions. Student have a chance to work full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part-time (20 hours or less per week) earning money in US dollars and gain work experience in their area of interest.

Many colleges and universities offer Work Study programs only to their domestic students since it is largely paid for with federal funding. Since schools cannot provide federal financial aid to international students, payment must be made out of the budget from the office on campus or by a private organization. Because of this, the number of work study options may be far and few between.

To confront this, these CPT Work Study programs provide students with the support to acquire a paid position on campus or off campus. Not only that, but many of them have been designed to allow students to begin working as early as the first year.

On Campus Employment

International students are legally able to work on campus part-time, which is considered 20 hours a week or less. These programs allow students to begin working during their first semester enrolled in classes

Off Campus Employment

The majority of Work Study CPT programs offer employment or paid internships off campus. Students are able to work a minimum of 40 hours a week.


Graduate students are able to begin working off campus in their first year as long as their university:

  • mandates employment as a required component of the curriculum
  • requires their employment to begin immediately

As long as students meet the above requirements, students can arrive and begin working during their first semester. All other students will need to wait until after their first year to begin working.


Earn Money

Many Work Study CPT allow students to start working right away because the curriculum requires an internship in their first or second semester of study. That means that international students can begin working and earning money in US dollars. The wages paid are also equal to those paid to a US citizen doing the same role. After taxes, students can use their income to pay for their education needs, or for miscellaneous expenses as well.

Specialized Curriculum

Work Study CPT programs are specifically designed so that paid internships are required and are part of the entire degree program. Because of this, students have the unique opportunity to begin working in their first semester at school – unlike other programs which only offer CPT after a minimum of one year.

Work Experience

Working in the US can be invaluable no matter if you return to your home country or get sponsored on an H1B – or beyond. Working in the US helps improve your English fluency, business, etiquette, and gain practical work experience in your field

The restrictions that international students might find off-putting include:

  • You must have been enrolled in school full-time for one year on valid F-1 status (except for graduate students where the program requires immediate CPT)
  • The CPT employment must be an integral part of your degree program or requirement for a course for which you receive academic credit
  • You must have received a job offer that qualifies before you submit your CPT authorization request
  • Your job offer must be in your major or field of study
  • These restrictions are inconvenient for international students who need work right away, or whose degree program does not require any type of practicum or internship. These CPT Work Study programs design courses and work with schools to ensure that you’ll meet all of these requirements to begin working upon arrival.
  • Fortunately, there are a number of schools and programs in the US that allow international students to begin work straight away, whether that work is in their field of study or not. These programs can be extremely helpful for students who are struggling financially.