Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is off-campus work experience that must be in the F-1 student’s field of study and must contain a curricular component. The purpose of CPT is to allow the student to gain practical experience in their field of study and to bring the learning that would otherwise take place in a traditional classroom setting to a physical, on-site workplace. The degree to which the work experience is curricular must be evaluated and assessed by the CPT Faculty Advisor.
Note: “Curricular” Practical Training (CPT) policies differ at various schools and even by academic department within the same school. Each UMass Lowell Academic Department reserves the legal right to deny a request for CPT at its sole discretion.
If student’s academic program requires immediate participation in CPT, then the first academic year requirement can be waived. This is very rare, as most academic programs do not require that CPT be done in the first academic year.
F-1 students are not permitted to finish their program by only doing CPT. Students doing CPT during their last term must have required remaining work for completion of degree that is in addition to CPT. For this reason, it is mostly an occasional approval to graduate students working on their thesis/dissertation if the work is integral to the completion of their thesis/dissertation. This CPT would need to be approved by both their Thesis Advisor and the School Dean.
F-1 graduate coursework students are not permitted to do CPT in their last semester and need to apply for Pre-Completion Optional Practical Training (Pre-OPT) should they wish to work off-campus in their last semester.
An F-1 student making up an incomplete is not eligible for CPT.
A student completing their program in the summer is not permitted to do CPT unless they are a graduate thesis student who has work that is required for the completion of their degree and, even then, it must have the approval of their Thesis Advisor and School Dean.
CPT is authorized per academic semester by the International Students and Scholars Office and USCIS. CPT work authorization should fall within the semester dates.
Each F-1 CPT work authorization must be registered on student's transcript. Course registration must be for a minimum of one credit (as per department requirements.) Only CPT that is required for completion of degree as per the course catalog may have a course registration of zero credit.
If an F-1 student uses 12 months of full-time CPT, they will not be permitted to apply for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (Post OPT). Part-Time CPT does not impact the 12-month CPT allotment.
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