Practical Training for International Students


CIAM’s MBA Program is practical in nature and work experience allows students to strengthen their academic experience with real world comparisons. All students are required to take the Experiential Internship course (INT 599) during their MBA. This course requires that students do an internship or have a job for one term in order to meet graduation requirements. International students can achieve practical experience in two main ways: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). In order to take the INT 599 course, international students will need CPT authorization. Definitions on both these trainings and how international students can qualify can be found to the left. Please see the student catalog for more detailed information. 

"Learning is Experience. Everything else is just information." Albert Einstein

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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is temporary authorization for practical training related to your major field of study (paid or unpaid) including employment, internship, cooperative education, and practicum participation. 

Eligibility: CPT may only be authorized while students are enrolled in appropriate coursework that includes applicable internship experience and if such coursework is applicable to their degree program.  

  • Part-time (up to 20 hours per week) or Full-time (20+ hours per week) work.
  • Students must be enrolled full-time in the MBA program and maintain academic and attendance standards. 
  • Be enrolled in the Experiential Internship course (INT 599)
  • Can work during breaks as long as a student is registered for the internship course for the following term and has CPT authorization. 
  • Students must have a job or employment offer that is in a field related to the MBA degree.

More information:

Application guidelines:

Please email the following to your DSO at

  • INT 599 Application (contact the DSO)
  • Employment letter on the company letterhead that includes the job start and end date, brief job description, number of hours working, and supervisor information.   

Additional Requirements/Information:

  • CPT employment must relate to your major.
  • Student will receive a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," that shows  CPT approval for employment on page 2.
  • An F-1 student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving their new Form I-20 with CPT authorization. 
  • If F-1 student participated 12 months or more on full-time CPT, student is ineligible for OPT, but part-time CPT is fine and will not stop F-1 student from doing OPT.

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Frequently Asked Questions (CPT)

Frequently Asked Questions (CPT)

What is the difference between Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as employment that is an integral part of your major curriculum and allows you to participate in an internship, practicum or cooperative education program. Optional Practical Training (OPT) is optional for any student who meets the eligibility requirements and you do not need to earn credit. OPT is not employer specific and may be done before or after you graduate.

Do I have to be registered while on CPT?

You must maintain F-1 student status, which generally requires full-time registration. Students are required to register as full-time students while on CPT. CIAM Students must be enrolled in the Experiential Internship course (INT 599) in order to receive CPT authorization. 

Does CPT usage affect OPT eligibility?

You may use as much CPT as is required for your degree program. However, if you use a total of 12 months or more of full-time CPT, you are not eligible for OPT. Part-time CPT does not affect OPT in any way.

Do I need to have a job to apply for CPT?

You must have an offer of employment to apply for CPT since the authorization is for a specific employer.

Can I change the number of hours I work?

You can change within the limits of part-time or full-time. For example, you may change from 10 hours per week to 15 hours per week without a new authorization. However, if you change from part-time to full-time (or vice versa) you must request a new authorization.

Can I change employers?

Since CPT is employer specific you must apply for a new CPT authorization before you work for the new employer.

Can I extend my CPT?

You are authorized for specific dates of employment on your I-20. You may not begin before the start date or continue after the end date. You must apply for CPT for each individual term.

Do I need a Social Security number?

Yes, you will need a Social Security number in order to receive payment from your employer.

Will I be required to pay Social Security and other taxes?

In general, as an F-1 student you will be exempt from Social Security (FICA) taxes for your first five years in the U.S. as long as you continue to declare nonresident status for tax purposes.

Unless you qualify under a tax treaty between the U.S. and your home government, your earnings as an F-1 student will be subject to applicable federal, state and local taxes, and employers are required to withhold those taxes from your paychecks. For more information on taxes, consult the Internal Revenue Service.

Will I receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?

No. The CPT authorization on page 2 of your I-20 is your proof of employment eligibility and together with your I-94 record may be used to complete the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 required by your employer.

If you employer has questions about documentation required for I-9 purposes, please refer them to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ “I-9 Central” page, including the section about international students with training authorization.

Questions? Click here to ask a DSO

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides F-1 students with an opportunity for hands-on work experience (work authorization) related to the academic field of study. There are 2 types of OPT:

  • Pre-completion OPT is OPT that is used before the student’s program end date. Students with approved pre-completion OPT may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session. Students who are eligible to register for the next term and who plan to do so may have approval to work full time when school is not in session.  This type of OPT is very uncommon.
  • Post-completion OPT is OPT authorized to be engaged in after the student’s program end date.


You are eligible to apply if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are currently in F-1 status.
  • You have been enrolled in a full course of study for one academic year (three quarters, including final exams weeks) or will complete one academic year by the date the OPT approval begins.
  • You have not been authorized for a total of 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT). (Part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.)
  • You do not need a job offer first; you can apply for the 12-month OPT authorization without a job offer.
  • You have not previously completed 12 months of OPT at the same degree level.
  • You are eligible for 12 months of full-time OPT per academic level. For example, you may apply for 12 months of OPT after completing a bachelor’s degree and then another 12 months after completing a master’s degree.
  • You may apply for OPT authorization during your academic program, after your program completion, or a combination of both.


Employment Options:

Allowed employment for regular pre- and post-completion OPT must be related to F-1 student's degree program, including:

  • Multiple employers. F-1 student may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to student’s degree program and, for pre-completion OPT, cannot exceed the allowed per week cumulative hours.
  • Short-term multiple employers (performing artists). F-1 student, such as a musician or other type of performing artist, may work for multiple short-term employers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration.
  • Work for hire. This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment, where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship.
  • Self-employed business owner. F-1 student on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. The student must be able to prove that they have the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to their degree program.
  • Employment through an agency or consulting firm. F-1 student on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they have worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.
  • Paid employment. F-1 student may work part time (at least 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full time.
  • Unpaid employment. F-1 student may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern, where this practice does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for an F-1 student on post-completion OPT. An F-1 student must be able to provide evidence acquired from their employer to verify they have worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.


While on OPT, F-1 Students must report any changes to contact or employer information.

  • An F-1 student should report changes in employment to their International Student Advisor within 10 business days of change
  • Students can not be unemployed for over 90 days during OPT.
  • Students should also report any change in address, email, or phone number to CIAM within 10 days.
  • Students must report back to CIAM for a campus visit 6 months into their OPT. 

Grace Period:

There is a 60-day period for an F-1 student after the completion of a course of study or an authorized period of post-completion OPT, allowing the F-1 student time to prepare for departure from the United States, apply for a transfer to another school, request a change of education level at the current school or take steps to otherwise maintain legal status.


OPT Termination:

Authorization to engage in optional practical training employment is automatically terminated when an F-1 student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level.


Travel Issues:

Please visit the following website for guidance about travel while on the 12-month period of OPT:

Questions? Click here to ask a DSO

Ask an International School Official

Ask an International School Official

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