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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a benefit that allows F-1 students to accept off campus employment / internships in connection with the Vassar curriculum.  CPT must be directly related to your major field of study.

The Basics

  • CPT is available to F-1 students
  • The earliest that an F-1 student can access CPT is the summer after their first academic year.
  • CPT must be directly related to your major field of study.
  • CPT is available part tie (up to 20 hours per week) during the academic year, and full time during academic breaks.
  • CPT is a benefit available as a function of OIS and the Office of Community Engaged Learning.

Applying for CPT

  • Timing. 
    • Unlike OPT, there are no external deadlines.
    • CPT is mostly used for summer internships.  The key internal deadline is that you have to register with the Office of Community Engaged Learning (OCEL) by the end of May.
    • Our recommendation is to reach out to OIS as soon as you land a position, and we will walk you through the steps.
  • How to Apply
    • The first step is to land an internship or other form of off campus employment.  The employment must directly relate to your major field of study.
    • For summer employment:
    • Arrange to get credit for your employment
  • Make an appointment with the Office of Community Engaged Learning before the end of the semester.
  • Follow the OCEL process for arranging for summer credit
  • Complete their forms as required.
    • Send via email to OIS a letter of employment, which must:
  • be on official company letterhead
  • include a specific start date and a specific end date
  • include the complete street address where your work will be performed
  • have the number of hours per week you will work
  • describe what it is you will be doing
  • be signed and dated by your employer
    • Once we in OIS have received confirmation from the OCEL office along with your employment letter, we will issue a new I-20 authorizing CPT
  • For employment outside of the summer:
    • Make an appointment with the Office of Engaged Learning to explore what may be possible.
  • CPT FAQs


  • Can I take a semester off and do CPT?
    • No, you cannot do CPT (or OPT) during a leave of absence.  You need to be a full-time registered student in order to be able to apply for CPT.
  • Can I do CPT during my first year?
    • The earliest you can do CPT is the summer following your first year.
  • Does the use of CPT impact my eligibility for OPT?
    • It technically could, but it is very unlikely.  You would need to amass 12 months of full-time CPT to become ineligible for OPT.
  • Do I need a job offer to apply for CPT?
    • Yes.  Unlike OPT, CPT is job-specific.
  • Is there an application fee?
    • No.
  • How many hours per week can I do CPT?
    • CPT + any other employment, including on campus, cannot exceed 20 hours per week during the academic year.
    • There is no restriction on hours during academic break periods. 

Applying for CPT

  • What is the latest in the spring semester that I can apply for CPT for the summer?
    • We recommend you apply for CPT by the end of April.
    • The one fixed deadline is that the Office for Community Engaged Learning requires you to register for summer work by the end of May.
    • Note also that it can be difficult to arrange for faculty sponsors beyond the end of classes. 
  • How do I apply for CPT?
    • See section on applying for CPT, above.
    • Reach out to OIS if you have any additional questions!
  • How do I know if my CPT has been approved?
    • You will receive a new CPT I-20:  we will notify you when it is ready to be picked up.
    • Your CPT authorization will appear on Page 2 of the I-20.  If your employer wants proof of authorization, this is what you will show to them.