Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is permission granted to F-1 students to engage in off-campus employment or an internship related to your degree program prior to degree completion. 

CPT must be an integral part of a degree program for which work authorization is provided. It allows students to gain practical experience in their field of work while they are still taking classes in their degree program. 

*IMPORTANT: You may engage in CPT only if you have already received written approval on your I-20 from an ISO advisor. Any off-campus training undertaken prior to receiving written authorization or beyond the authorized dates violates F-1 immigration regulations and can lead to termination of your F-1 student status.

What Qualifies as CPT?

CPT must be directly related to the field of study (major) and appropriate for the level of study AND either A or B below: 

A) Required to Complete Degree Program - Internships, practicums and cooperative education (Co-op) opportunities that are an established part of a curriculum and required to meet the graduation requirements of a program meet the requirement for curricular practical training. 


B) An Integral Part of Curriculum - Internships, practicums and cooperative education (Co-op) opportunities which are not required by the degree program but may still meet the requirements if students receive academic credit or there is transcript documentation. 


  1. You must have been enrolled consecutively, as a full-time student for the equivalent of one academic year (2 semesters, not counting the summer term). Note: If you took courses as part of GW"s Flex Start or were enrolled in GW courses abroad without maintaining your F-1 status, please contact the ISO to determine your eligibility.
  2. You must be in valid F-1 status
  3. You must have completed at least 1 full academic semester at GW in the semester prior to proposed practical training*
  4. You must have already received an eligible offer for training

During Official Vacation Periods

  • You are eligible to participate full-time. Note that you may not engage in CPT without authorization and work hours are limited to part time/full time based on the authorization as listed on page 2 of your I-20. If you are authorized for part time CPT, you may not engage in full time CPT without a new authorization from the ISO.
  • If summer is your first or final term, it is considered a required term and not a vacation period.
  • You must be enrolled full-time in the next consecutive term at GW

During the Academic Semester

  • You are eligible to participate a maximum of 20 hours/week total (on- and off-campus combined) - Per GW University Bulletin, University Regulations, Student Status 
  • You must maintain full-time enrollment status at GW and make normal progress toward the completion of your degree, which means that in most cases you are only eligible to participate in training only in the DC Metro area or remotely

*Graduate students in programs that require an internship within the first year should see an ISO advisor about a possible exception. Students who have been enrolled full-time at a U.S. college/university in another status immediately before changing status to F-1 should consult with an ISO advisor.

Important Rules

  • If you engage in twelve or more months of full-time CPT at your current program level, you will not be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) when you complete your studies.
  • CPT is authorized on a semester-by-semester basis, and therefore you need to apply for CPT authorization each semester.
  • You must limit your training to the specified location and position authorized on your I-20.
  • For part-time training, you must be careful to limit your participation to less than 20 hours per week

Find an Internship, Practicum, or Cooperative Education Opportunity

How Do I Apply?

To apply, you must submit the following documents through the "Apply on ISOGateway" link below:

  • proposal letter from you describing the type of training you would like to do and how the proposed training is directly related to your major field of study.
    • A new request with updated documents will need to be submitted before each semester for which you are applying for CPT. Please make sure to sign and date this letter.
  • letter (on letterhead) from the entity offering the training clearly indicating:
    • Name and address of the entity issuing the paycheck, if there is one 
    • Note: If the location involves a second entity, that entity should be identified
    • Address where  training will take place
    • Title of your position and detailed description of your duties
    • Number of hours you will be training per week
    • Exact dates when your training is expected to begin and end
    • *Please make sure your employer has signed and dated this letter
  • A letter (on GW letterhead) from your academic advisor containing the following information:
    • Indication that s/he has reviewed your proposal and  letters
    • Brief description of your degree program and how the proposed training is directly related to your academic program (major) 
    • Explanation of how the proposed training is an integral part of your curriculum of study
    • Estimated date of graduation
    • Indication that you are making normal progress toward degree completion and that the proposed training will not interfere with continued satisfactory progress by the graduation date indicated on your I-20
    • *Please make sure your academic advisor has signed and dated this letter
    • *All CCAS undergraduate students should obtain the letter from their department major advisors
  • Proof of registration in the appropriate curricular course (unless required by program and no class is available)
    • ESIA Undergraduate students, and all SEAS & CCAS students – Please go to and follow the instructions to apply for enrollment in the Professional Praxis program. Allow a minimum of 2-3 business days for processing. Enrollment in the Professional Praxis course is required to receive authorization for internships, practicums and other opportunities.
    • ESIA graduate students, GSEHD – See the career center specific to your program
    • GWSB graduate students – Enroll in MBAD 6298
    • GWSB undergraduate students (enroll in BADM 4950), 
    • CPS, SPHHS – See your academic advisor
    • Law –  See the Law School Career Services Office
    • letter (on GW letterhead) from your academic advisor containing the following information:
    • Proof of registration in the appropriate curricular course (unless required by program and no class is available)
  • A legible photocopy of your most recent I-94

It is important that you submit a complete application according to the outlined requirements above. If an application does not meet the requirements, the processing of your paperwork may be delayed. Please allow a minimum of 10 business days for processing. 

Apply on ISOGateway


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions about CPT? We have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions for you here.

How much CPT can I be authorized for? 

Most students will be eligible for 1 or 2 semesters of CPT.  CPT must be authorized for each semester. Be aware that if you complete 12 or more months of full time CPT, you will be ineligible for OPT. To continue to be eligible for OPT you will want to make sure to do 364 days or less of full-time CPT. Any participation in CPT that is less than 12 months should not affect your eligibility for OPT. 

How many hours per week can I work? 

If you are approved for Part-Time CPT you may work less than 20 hours per week while you are enrolled for classes. You must be enrolled as a full time student and also be enrolled in the appropriate internship course (CPT placement/Professional Praxis/internship) to maintain your legal status. 

Full-Time CPT permits employment of more than 20 hours per week. This option is only available: 

  • During the summer vacation if you will be enrolled full-time for the next fall semester.
  • During school vacations if no classes are being held for that entire week (i.e. Spring Break, winter break, but NOT Thanksgiving break).
  • For graduate students whose thesis or project requires a full-time internship and are enrolled in thesis credits.

Can I change employers while on authorized CPT?  

No. CPT is employer specific and you will need to submit another application to the ISO for approval. 

What if my CPT ends early or I decide to cancel my CPT? 

You should contact an ISO advisor as soon as you decide to end your CPT early or decide not to participate in CPT. 

Can I extend my CPT authorization? 

No, you must reapply for CPT each semester. If you would like to continue CPT, plan ahead and submit another CPT application to the ISO for approval two weeks before the end date of the current CPT. You are only authorized to work at the employer/co-op/internship listed on your I-20 and during the dates specified. Any work that takes place before or after the dates listed on your I-20 for CPT is considered unauthorized employment. Please note, unauthorized employment is a serious F-1 violation. 

What are my responsibilities while on CPT? 

While on CPT you still have certain responsibilities towards maintaining lawful F-1 status, such as:

  • Always report any change of address using GWeb within 10 days of moving.
  • Only work at the company indicated on your I-20.
  • Only work during the authorized time period as indicated on your I-20.
  • Do not exceed the number of working hours permitted while on CPT.
  • Maintain a full-course of study each semester.
  • If enrolled in co-op, meet the co-op requirements. (contact GW Career Center for details)

ISO advisors offer workshops on CPT several times per year. CPT Workshops are presented by ISO advisors who have specialty training in employment authorization for non-immigrants.

Dates and locations for CPT workshops will be announced on our Events page. 


Attend a Tax Workshop sponsored by the ISO and the Tax Department for information on how to correctly file your taxes. These workshops do not apply to students who have been in the U.S. on an F-1 or J-1 visa for more than 5 years or to J-1 non-students who have been in the U.S. more than 2 years. 

Understanding taxes is a specialized area of knowledge. The ISO cannot assist the international population with their taxes or with tax-related questions. If you have general questions about your tax returns, then please contact the Tax Department for more assistance, though keep in mind they cannot prepare or review your returns.

Commonly Asked Questions regarding Taxes:

When are the tax workshops?

The workshops are usually held in March and April. Please check the Events page or follow us on social media for news about upcoming tax workshops. 

Who needs to attend the tax workshop?

F-1 and J-1 students who have been in the U.S. less than 5 years and received income (i.e. wages, stipends, awards/prizes). J-1 non-students who have been in the U.S. less than 2 years and who received income may also attend. This is generally referred to as nonresident alien tax status.

Does GW provide software to assist with preparation of tax returns?

Yes, it is called Sprintax. Please see this page on the Tax Department website for details.

Do F-1 students, J-1 students, or J-1 non-students who did NOT earn any income in 2014 need to file a tax return?

Those who did NOT receive any income while in nonresident alien tax status need only to complete Form 8843. An example Form 8843 for those without income can be downloaded from this page.

Who do I contact if I still have questions?

If you still have questions, you should contact the Tax Department at [email protected] or (571) 553-8313. Please keep in mind that the Tax Department can only provide general tax information to you and cannot provide tax advice or complete your forms for you.