Earn while you learn in USA

Concerns about paying for their education and living expenses while studying in the United States are common among international students. International students who take part in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) have the opportunity to make money through off-campus employment or internships in their academic subject. International students can participate in CPT and earn money while gaining real-world experience


In the context of international students studying in the United States, CPT is an acronym for Curricular Practical Training. It is a type of work authorization that enables international students to work off-campus in a job or internship that is directly related to their field of study.

It is worth noting that there are limits on the amount of time that international students can participate in CPT. In general, students are permitted to work for up to 12 months of full- time CPT, but this duration is subtracted from their Optional Practical Training eligibility after graduation

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) as an international student in the United States, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Enrolled in a qualifying institution: You must be enrolled in a U.S. college or university that is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
  2. Full-time student: You must be a full-time student, meaning you are enrolled in a full course of study and taking the minimum number of credit hours required by your institution.
  3. Have completed one academic year: You must have completed at least one full academic year of study before you can apply for CPT.
  4. Related to your field of study: The job or internship you plan to take must be directly related to your field of study. You will need to provide evidence that the experience will be an integral part of your program of study.

5. Obtain authorization: You must obtain authorization for CPT from your designated school official (DSO) before you start working


  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) offers several benefits for international students studying in the United States. Here are some of the key benefits of CPT:
  • Gain real-world experience: CPT provides international students with the opportunity to gain practical experience in their field of study outside of the classroom. This can help students develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their future careers.
  • Enhance resume: By completing CPT, international students can add relevant work experience to their resume, which can make them more competitive in the job market.
  • Earn money: CPT allows international students to earn money while they are studying in the United States. This can help cover living expenses and reduce the need for additional financial support.
  • Network: CPT can provide international students with the opportunity to network with professionals in their field and make valuable connections that could lead to future job opportunities.
  • Meet academic requirements: In some cases, CPT may be required to fulfill academic requirements for a student’s program of study. This can ensure that international students are able to graduate on time and meet all of the requirements for their degree.

OPT and STEM extension

OPT is a program that enables international students who have finished their degree programs in the US to work for up to 12 months in a field that is related to their major area of study. The main objective of this program is to provide students with practical experience

in their respective fields and to help them transition from their academic studies to their professional careers.

STEM Extension, on the other hand, is a program that permits eligible students who have completed a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) fields to prolong their OPT for an additional 24 months. This extension aims to provide STEM students with more time to secure employment opportunities in their field and to assist in addressing the shortage of skilled workers in these domains in the US. In both scenarios, the OPT or STEM Extension is granted as an extension of the student’s F-1 visa, which is a non-immigrant visa that permits international students to study in the US.

Difference between CPT and OPT

CPT and OPT are two programs that allow international students to gain work experience related to their field of study while in the US. However, there are several significant differences between these programs.

  • Eligibility: CPT can be granted to students who have been enrolled in a qualifying educational program for at least one academic year, while OPT is only available to students who have completed their degree program.
  • Duration: CPT can be part-time or full-time, and there is no specific limit on the duration of CPT as long as it is approved by the school and does not exceed 12 months of full-time CPT. However, OPT is typically limited to a maximum of 12 months, except for the STEM OPT Extension, which allows eligible students to work for an additional 24 months.
  • Purpose: CPT is designed to provide students with practical training that is an integral part of their curriculum and degree requirements. In contrast, OPT is intended to give students practical experience in their field of study after they have completed their degree program.
  • Timing: CPT can be used during the academic year or during the summer break, while OPT can only be used after the student completes their degree program.

Overall, while both CPT and OPT offer international students opportunities to gain work

experience in the US, there are important differences in eligibility, duration, purpose, and

timing that students should consider before choosing one of these options. It is essential for

students to seek guidance from their school’s international student office to determine

which program is most suitable for their needs.

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