Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is a type of work authorization for eligible F-1 international students to participate in paid off-campus internships before graduation. However, it should not prevent the student from making reasonable progress towards the degree. 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 following CPT information prior to applying for CPT.

Eligibility Requirements

Time at USC

Maintain F-1 student status for at least one academic year.

Graduate GPA



Minimum GPA requirement to apply for a CPT:
Fall/Spring CPT: 3.0 +
Summer CPT: 2.75+

Online Training

Master's Students Only

Master's students must complete all Career Success Course (CSC) modules online and pass the quiz with a score of 80% or above.

Take CSC

*Time at USC: Students must have maintained full-time student status for at least one academic year. If you attended undergraduate or Master's programs 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.
*Progressive Degree program (PDP)students are waived of the Online Training requirement.
*Ph.D students: CPT cannot be approved for a PhD student who has applied or is planning to apply for a program extension unless the CPT directly supports research or writing the dissertation. In which case, you must upload a written explanation along with your offer letter.

    CPT Course Registration

    Students must register for an internship course during the semester they wish to do CPT.
    Computer Science Master’s students and Electrical Engineering Master’s students must also successfully complete the Professional Writing and Communication for Internships course. This can be completed as CS-598 (1.0 unit), ENGR-595A (1.0 unit), or the noncredit version of ENGR 595A. Progressive Degree program (PDP) students do not need to take ENGR-595A class. 

    Degree(Major)

    If earned Credit Grade

    First Internship

    Future Internships

    CS/EE MS

    CSCI 598

    ENGR 596

    ENGR 596

    CS/EE MS

    ENGR 595a (1 unit)

    ENGR 595 b (0 unit)

    ENGR 595 cdz (0 unit)

    CS/EE MS

    ENGR 595a (0 unit)

    ENGR 596 (1 unit)

    TBD

    Other MS N/A

    ENGR 596 (1 unit)

    TBD

    Ph.DN/A

    ENGR 596 (1 unit)

    ENGR 596 (1 unit)

    *Receiving an “NC”  (no credit) grade from ENGR 596 or ENGR 595B will result in ineligibility for future CPTs.

    Hours and Location of Employment

    If it’s your final semester, you can work full-time if your course enrollment is no more than 4 credits (not including CPT credit). 10-20 hours per week is considered part-time and 20-40 per week is considered full-time.

    • Full-time CPT (1 class and 1 internship class)
    • Part-time CPT

    If it’s NOT your final semester, you can only work part-time with full-time course enrollment

    • Full-time CPT
    • Part-time CPT (full-time class enrollment)
    **Students cannot take academic difficulty RCL with CPT simultaneously.

    Location: 

    • Work must be in the L.A area if your class enrollment is more than 4 credits. 
    • 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 Semesters, or to be eligible for full-time CPT.
    • PhD students cannot hold a 50% assistantship during the Fall or Spring semesters, and be approved for CPT unless eligible for full-time CPT. 

    During summer semester, you can work on both part-time and full-time internships in the U.S.

    • Full Time CPT
    • Part Time CPT
    Location: 

    • Within the U.S.
    • 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 Semesters, or to be eligible for full-time CPT.
    • PhD students cannot hold a 50% assistantship during the Fall or Spring semesters, and be approved for CPT unless eligible for full-time CPT. 

    To ensure a rewarding internship experience and earn academic credit for your internship course, internships should be:

    • At least 12 weeks during Fall and Spring, 10 weeks during Summer.
    • A minimum of 10 hours per week.

    CPT Application

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

     FALL 2018

    SPRING 2018

    SUMMER 2018

    Application Start Date

    TBA

    Nov. 23

    March 5

    Deadline

    First Deadline:        Sept. 7

    Final Deadline:      TBA

    First Deadline:       Jan. 26

    Final Deadline:      Feb. 26

    First Deadline: June 1

    Final Deadline: TBA

    If this is your final semester…

    Aug. 20 –  Dec. 12

    Jan. 8 –  May 11

    May 14 – Aug. 7

    If this is NOT your final semester…

    Aug. 20 –  Jan. 6

    Jan. 8 –  May 15

    May 14 – Aug. 19

    Deadline to submit final report

    November 30

    April 27

    August 3

    The Offer Letter required for CPT approval must feature the company’s letterhead. Job must be related to student’s major. 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
    • Salary information – This can be given as either an hourly rate or for a contract period.

    1. Receive an offer letter with all the required information. 
    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 for credit (1 unit) 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 596 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.

    Upon CPT approval notification from OIS, please be sure to pick up CPT I-20 and use it as your most recent I-20 for future immigration inquiry. 

    Some friendly reminders regarding your CPT…

    • Follow internship course syllabus and contact the GAPP office for your questions regarding the internship course.
    • Remove your application from any pending recruiting processes.
    • If you cannot continue the internship, please contact the GAPP office as soon as possible.

    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. Locate a full-time faculty member in your major department who is willing to supervise you for ENGR 596. Complete the CPT ENGR 596 Approval Application online at MyViterbi – this must include your job description (Log in then select “Directed Research CPT”).

    2. Fill out the the ENGR 596 Approval Contract and submit it to GAPP advisors (OHE 106).