International Student Services

The Viterbi Graduate and Professional Programs (GAPP) Office works closely with the Office of International Services (OIS) to assist our international students during their time at USC.  Viterbi graduate students must obtain approval from GAPP advisors before submitting forms to OIS.

Please visit the links below for more information on policies and requirements for international students.

International students must be registered for a full course of study during fall and spring semesters. For Master’s students, a full course of study is 8 units in the Fall and Spring semesters. For PhD students, full-time enrollment is 6 units in the Fall and Spring semesters.

Registration is not required in Summer semesters, unless it is the student’s first or last semester. International students who plan to be enrolled for less than full-time must submit the Reduced Course Load form. There are only a few exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement for the Fall and Spring semesters as listed below. Each exception has its own criteria, which are outlined in detail on the OIS website.

  • Academic Difficulty RCL (once per degree level)
  • Medical RCL
  • Final Semester RCL (once per degree program)
    Do not drop any classes unless you have spoken with an academic advisor and your RCL has been approved.

Viterbi RCL Policies

  • Academic Difficulty RCL: minimum 4 units (3 units for PhD students)
  • Students cannot take a CPT and an Academic Difficulty RCL during the same semester
  • Final semester RCL is not done automatically. If you are in your final semester of your degree program and are taking less than 8 units, you must complete and submit a RCL form.

OIS RCL Resources:

** F-1/J-1 students should not drop below full-time enrollment until they have received authorization from OIS. Students who drop below full-time enrollment without the proper authorization from OIS will be considered out of status. **

The deadline for submitting the Reduced Course Load form is the last day to add/drop for that semester.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Request a RCL:

  1. Register for courses in the Fall or Spring semester.
  2. Complete the RCL form.
  3. A GAPP advisor will review your RCL form within 5 business days and determine your eligibility for a RCL. You will receive an email notifying you when your RCL is approved or if additional information is required.
  • Please allow 5 business days to receive notification before following up with the GAPP office.
If you are a PhD Student:
Being enrolled less than full-time can negatively impact your funding. Therefore, all PhD students requesting an RCL must email either Jennifer Gerson or Tracy Charles to set up an appointment discuss their funding status while on RCL.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) 

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) offers an opportunity for students to gain valuable real-world experience as a part of their education. However, it must be done in a manner that maintains academic integrity. It must not become a means to avoid immigration laws, and it should not prevent the student from making reasonable progress towards the degree. Please read and closely follow the policies and procedures outlining the responsibilities for both students and supervising faculty developed by USC Viterbi School of Engineering before proceeding further. The Office of International Services (OIS) provides additional information on their website that all graduate students should also be aware of. International students should review the OIS CPT Information prior to filing for CPT.

Viterbi CPT Policies

  • Students applying for a Fall or Spring CPT must have a GPA of 3.00 or above.
  • Students applying for a Summer CPT must have a GPA of 2.75 or above.
  • Remote CPTs are not allowed. The student must work at a company site.
  • During Fall and Spring, CPTs must be in the Los Angeles area unless it’s your final semester and:
  •          You have no more than 4 total units including 1-unit CPT
  •          You have one 4-unit class plus 1-unit CPT
  • PhD students must have passed the Qualifying Examination and be enrolled in Dissertation units in order to work outside the Los Angeles area during the Fall and Spring Semestersor to be eligible for full-time CPT.
  • CPTs must be at least 12 weeks during Fall and Spring, 10 weeks during Summer.
  • CPTs must be a minimum of 10 hours per week.
  • Receiving an “NC” for ENGR 596 will result in ineligibility for future CPTs.
  • CPT may not be used as a reason for delaying graduation.
  • Students who have already completed all course/unit requirements for their degree are not eligible for CPT.
  • A PhD student cannot hold a 50% assistantship during the Fall or Spring semesters, and be approved for CPT unless eligible for full-time CPT. 

CPT Eligibility

1. Full-time Status Requirement

Students must have maintained full-time student status for at least one academic year (9 months). If you completed your undergraduate or a master’s degree at a U.S. Institution, you may be eligible for CPT earlier. Please see a GAPP advisor in OHE-106 and OIS CPT Website for more information.

     First Term at USC

   CPT Eligibility Term

FALL 2016




FALL 2017


2. GPA Requirement

  • Students applying for a Fall or Spring CPT must have a GPA of 3.00 or above.
  • Students applying for a Summer CPT must have a GPA of 2.75 or above.

3. Completion of Career Success Course (Master’s Students only)

 The Viterbi Master’s Career Success Course (CSC) is designed to provide international students with a better understanding of the career development process in the US. Completion of all course modules is required.

4. Completion of ‘Professional Writing and Communication for Internships’ course  (Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Master’s Students – Select Programs)

Computer Science master’s students (admitted Fall 2016 or later) and Electrical Engineering master’s students (admitted Fall 2017 or later) must also successfully complete the Professional Writing and Communication for Internships course in the programs below. This course can be completed as CS-598 (1.0 unit), ENGR-595A (1.0 unit), or the noncredit version of ENGR 595A (non-credit). This course will build students’ abilities to write and present in a professional setting.

Computer Science Programs:

  • Master of Science in Computer Science (General)
  • Master of Science in Computer Science (Data Science)
  • Master of Science in Computer Science (Software Engineering)
  • Master of Science in Computer Science (Multimedia and Creative Technologies)
  • Master of Science in Computer Science (Computer Security)
  • Master of Science in Computer Science (Game Development)
  • Master of Science in Computer Science (High Performance)
  • Master of Science in Computer Science (Intelligent Robotics)
  • Master of Science in Computer Science (Computer Networks)

Electrical Engineering Programs:

  • Master of Science in Computer Engineering
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (General)
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (Computer Networks)
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (Electric Power)
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (Financial Engineering)
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (Multimedia and Creative Technologies)
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (VLSI Design)
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (Wireless Health Technology)
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (Wireless Networks)
  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering/Engineering Management (Dual Degree)
  • Master of Science in Green Technologies

Dates and Deadlines

CPTs cannot start before or end after the posted dates below.


 FALL 2017



GAPP CPT application processing begins

May 22

Nov. 23

When registration opens for Summer classes

Deadline to submit application

First Deadline:        Sep. 8

Final Deadline:      Sep. 29

First Deadline:        Jan.26

Final Deadline:      TBA


First Deadline: TBA

Final Deadline: TBA

If this is your final semester…

Aug. 21 –  Dec. 13

Jan. 8 –  May 11

May 16 – Aug. 7

If this is NOT your final semester…

Aug. 21 –  Jan. 7

Jan. 8 –  May 15

May 16 – Aug. 19

Deadline to submit final report

Dec. 1

April 27


Offer Letter Requirements

The Offer Letter required for CPT approval must feature the company’s letterhead. The information given below must be included in the body of the letter. If any information is missing, the offer letter will be rejected by GAPP. See this Sample CPT Letter as a guide – feel free to share this with your company if they have questions.

  • Student’s full name
  • Location where the student will work – Address in the letterhead is insufficient. Work location address must be in the body of the letter.
  • Job description – This is a description of what you’re doing on the job and is more than just your title.
  • Hours per week to be worked – Must state the number of hours per week (e.g. “40”, “15-20”, “thirty”, etc.)
  • Beginning and ending dates of the internship – Time frame must adhere to the specific dates listed in the chart above.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Complete the CPT Application

  1. Complete the CPT eligibility requirements listed above. Obtain an offer letter from the company where you will be doing your internship. The offer letter MUST contain all criteria listed in the Offer Letter Requirements section below.
  2. If you are requesting ENGR 596: Locate a full-time faculty member in your major department who is willing to supervise you for ENGR 596. It is the student’s responsibility to select a professor who is available to supervise the CPT. Complete the CPT ENGR 596 Approval Application online at MyViterbi – this must include your job description. Log in then select “Directed Research CPT”
    If you are requesting ENGR 595b: Completion of ENGR 595a is required. Skip step 2 and proceed to Step 3
  3. Complete the GAPP Online CPT Request Form and upload your CPT offer letter. The offer letter from the company must be on the company’s letterhead – see Sample CPT Letter as a guide.
  4. A GAPP advisor will review your documents and issue d-clearance for ENGR I596 or ENGR 595b if approved. You will be notified via e-mail when your CPT request has been reviewed.
  5. Once you obtain d-clearance, register for ENGR 596 or ENGR 595b immediately.
  6. OIS will review your CPT request online after receiving GAPP approval and will notify you via e-mail when your I-20 is ready for pick-up. OIS processing time for CPT is 4 business days.
If you are a domestic student:
Please complete steps 1-2 above, fill out the the ENGR 596 Approval Contract and submit it to GAPP advisors (OHE 106).

ENGR 596 (Internship In Engineering, 1 unit)

The United States Government requires international students on CPT to be registered in a regular course in the curriculum. The course approved for graduate engineering students for CPT is ENGR 596. The student must discuss the specifics of the syllabus with the supervising professor. The student must regularly report to the supervising professor throughout the semester and submit a final report. Both student and professor must adhere to the ENGR 596 syllabus. It is the student’s responsibility to select a professor who will be available to supervise the CPT. REGISTRATION IN ENGR 596 IS MANDATORY FOR CPT.


Please print the ENGR596 Syllabus so you can review its contents and share it with your supervising faculty. The syllabus outlines the course expectations, requirements and grading policy.

CPT Resources & Forms

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is designed for students with F-1 visa status. It is designed to provide students with an opportunity to gain actual employment experiences in your chosen profession for a maximum of one year, before or after completing a degree program, to complement your academic work. OPT is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Office of Graduate & Professional Programs (GAPP) is responsible for completing the Graduation Verification section on the Request for 12-Month OPT I-20 form.

OIS OPT Online Workshop

F-1 international students interested in applying for OPT must complete the OIS OPT Online Workshop. It includes important details about eligibility requirements, application timeline, reporting requirements, and other pertinent topics related to OPT. All necessary forms for the OPT application are available at the end of the online workshop.

OPT Resources & Forms:

Important Dates and Deadlines

The entire application process, from time of submission to OIS for your OPT I-20 to receipt of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) can take up to 3 months, so plan accordingly.

  • Apply up to 3 months before.
  • OIS must receive the OPT Application no later than 3 weeks BEFORE graduation.

Step-by-Step Instructions to get OPT Graduation Verification

  1. AFTER you register for your final semester: most MS students must complete an Application for Graduation and submit it to their academic departmental advisor. Students in the AME, CS, EE, and ISE department should submit their application to graduate online at MyViterbi.
  2. When your major department has processed your Application to Graduate and completed a degree check, your STARS report on OASIS will become available for review. Check your STARS report on OASIS to make sure all requirements for your degree have been met and contact your graduate advisor if there are any discrepancies.
  3. Review the OIS OPT Online Workshop to obtain the Request for 12-Month OPT I-20 form (OPT form).
  4. PhD students must also fill out a PhD Verification of Completion form and submit to the GAPP Office
  5. Meet with a GAPP advisor to complete and sign the Graduation Verification section on the OPT form.
  6. Submit the signed OPT form to OIS.

Remote OPT Graduation Verification Requirements 

Students who are in their final semester and working outside of the greater Los Angeles area may have the Graduation Verification section of the OPT form processed remotely by the Office of Graduate & Professional Programs (GAPP) if the following criteria are met:

  • Student is participating in a CPT outside of the greater Los Angeles area.
  • Student has no activity restrictions on their record.
  • Student has submitted the Application to Graduate form to their major department.
  • Student has an updated STARS report with no outstanding academic concerns (examples include MG, IN).
  • Student has a GPA of 3.00 or better.

Follow these steps to request remote OPT Graduation Verification:

  1. Send an e-mail to (Master’s students), or to (PhD students) with the following:
  • your full name
  • your 10-digit ID number
  • scan and attach your completed OPT form in PDF format (Pictures of forms will not be accepted.)
  1. You will receive a reply to let you know if the remote request is approved and the signed OPT form will be attached.
  2. It is your responsibility to submit the signed form to OIS. GAPP is not responsible for submitting your OPT forms to OIS.
International students are given a specific period of time to complete the academic program requirements. Students who are unable to meet the academic program requirements by that date, a program extension form must be submitted to OIS before the expiration date.

Program Extension Resources & Forms

Important Dates and Deadlines

  • A program extension must be filed at least 3 weeks BEFORE the I-20 expiration date.
  • OIS processing time for program extension is 2 weeks.

Eligibility Requirements

  • The expiration date of the I-20/DS-2019 has not yet passed.
  • Continuously maintained the F-1/J-1 student status.
  • The delay in completion of program must be due to one of the following reasons:
  • Compelling academic reason (change of major, change in research topic, unexpected research problems, etc.)
  • Compelling medical reason (documentation is required from Student Health Center or U.S. licensed medical physician)
  • Must have sufficient funds to cover the additional time needed to complete program requirements, which includes tuition and living expenses of $1000 per month.
  • Delays caused by academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for a program extension.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Request a Program Extension

  1. Meet with the graduate advisor in your major department to determine what remaining requirements need to be met and for in-depth academic advisement.
  2. Complete a Program Extension form from OIS.
  3. Meet with a GAPP advisor for approval and signature. Be prepared to thoroughly discuss your need for a Program Extension.
  4. Obtain proof of funding: Tuition plus $1000 per month for living expenses through a funding letter or bank statement.
  5. Submit the Program Extension form along with the proof of funding to OIS at least 3 weeks before the expiration date of the I-20.

RSS USC Office of International Services News and Updates:

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  • Valid U.S. Address Required for All International Students October 26, 2017
    Immigration regulations require all international students to report any change in their local address in OASIS within 10 days of moving. This information will be updated in students’ SEVIS records. Step-By-Step Instructions on Local U.S. Address Entry in MyUSC/OASIS Account Login to myUSC Under My Services Menu, click on “OASIS” Select “Other Services” tab on the top of […]
  • Students Enjoy Tea with President Nikias October 24, 2017
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  • Meet the 2017/2018 OIS Student Staff October 19, 2017
    OIS employs 22 students to assist in serving USC’s international community. Each student staff member plays an integral role in the delivery of the services and programs OIS provides to international students and scholars. Visit the About Us page on the OIS website to read their biographies.