Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is practical work experience for F-1 students either required of all students in a specific degree program or, alternatively, listed in the course catalog as offering credit that directly counts towards degree credit requirements. This might, but will not always, include for-credit internships and cooperative education programs. In certain cases, it may also include independent study and/or graduate research.

 Practical Training

Practical Training is an authorization for temporary employment that allows F-1 students to work off-campus for the purpose of gaining experience or additional knowledge in their fields of study. See our employment workshop schedule.

Practical Training includes:

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) >
Are you required to participate in an off-campus internship? Will off-campus experience help you complete the requirements for your degree? CPT may be the right practical training authorization for you.

Optional Practical Training  (OPT) >
Are you interested in gaining optional experience in your field of study during or following the completion of your degree here at Rutgers? OPT may be the right practical training authorization for you.

OPT Extensions >
Some F-1 students may be eligible for an extension of their initial 12 months of OPT if they have received a degree in an eligible STEM field or have a pending or approved H-1B application.

F-1 students who have applied for OPT are facing unprecedented delays in receiving their EADs (employment authorization documents). These delays are being experienced across the country and can affect all recent graduates or those looking to receive their degrees in the near future. F-1 students are not permitted to begin working until they get their EADs. They cannot travel outside the US and reenter without their EAD and a job offer. Therefore these delays can result in loss of opportunities or jeopardize a student’s legal status in the U.S. While in previous years, OPT applications have taken an average of 2-3 months to be processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), processing times this year are much longer than in previous years. Recent estimates are that OPT processing times could take as long as 5+ months.

Follow these links for more information on these delays:
-- Check USCIS Case Processing Times 
-- Contact USCIS for a status update (if your OPT/STEM application has been pending for more than 90 days)

Once an OPT application goes to the USCIS, Rutgers has no control over the progress of the application. We would like to advise all our students who are considering applying for OPT, to plan well in advance. OPT applications can be sent to the USCIS up to 90 days before the end of a student’s coursework, and for up to 60 days after. This means that with enough advance planning, a student can apply in a timeline such that they receive their EAD card in time and can begin working according to their plans. Please attend a post-completion OPT workshop offered by ISSS to learn more about the process and also review the information on our website. It may also help to inform potential employers about the possibility of a delay in receiving work authorization. Finally, it is important to note that students still have legal status in the U.S. during the OPT adjudication period as long as they filed in the correct time frame.