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.
*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 VASE advisor in OHE-106 and OIS CPT Website for more information.
*Progressive Degree program (PDP) students are waived of the Online Training requirement.
*PhD 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.
*Students who fulfilled degree requirements may be eligible to take internship with a 3/4 unit course enrolled in their final semester before I-20 Program End Date. Internship is not an acceptable reason for Program Extension.
CPT Course Registration
- Students must register for an internship course during the semester they wish to do CPT.
- ENGR 596 is 1 unit; ENGR 597 is 0.5 unit; and ENGR 598 is 0 unit.
- 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 CSCI 598 (1 unit), ENGR-595a (1 unit), ENGR-595a (0 unit) or ENGR 597 (0.5 unit).
- Receiving a failing grade (no credit) from ENGR 596, 597 or 595b will result in ineligibility for future CPTs.
- Program Extensions will not be approved if reason is attributed to 0.5 unit deficiency.
ENGR 596 or ENGR 598
|MS (other)||ENGR 596|
ENGR 596 or ENGR 597*
|MS (other)||ENGR 597|
ENGR 596 or ENGR 598*
- Students enroll in an internship class during the same semester as they do the internship.
- ENGR 597: Master’s students in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering should take ENGR 597 (0.5 unit) for their first internship if they have not completed ENGR 595a for 1 unit. Students will concurrently gain practical work experience in an internship and participate in class to develop their communication skills. If you completed ENGR 595a for 0 unit, you will not be required to complete the communications portion of ENGR 597.
- ENGR 597 cannot be repeated.
- ENGR 598*: ENGR 598 (0 unit) is only available to Master’s students who have successfully completed ENGR-595a for 1 unit or ENGR 597 for 0.5 unit.
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.
If it’s NOT your final semester, you can only work part-time with full-time course enrollment**Students cannot take academic difficulty RCL with CPT simultaneously.
- Work must be in the L.A area if your class enrollment is more than 4 credits.
- Remote CPTs are not allowed. Exceptions are made for MS students who are continuing with the same company from a prior CPT experience.
- 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.