Optional Practical (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT)


Optional Practical Training is any practical work experience directly related to and commensurate with a student's degree studies. Students are permitted up to 12 months of OPT for each degree level in which they enroll (part-time OPT counts at only 50%, e.g., 4 months of part-time OPT counts as a total of 2 months).OPT can be authorized as part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full time (more than 20 hours per week) in any combination of the following ways:

  • Pre-completion OPT: prior to completion of all degree requirements
    part time only: while school is in session (fall and spring semesters)
    full time or part-time:
    • during school vacation periods (as long as student will be registered in the school in the following semester)
    • if start date requested is after completion of all required course work
  • Post-completion OPT: after completion of all coursework or degree requirements
    full time only

An application for OPT must be accompanied by a form from an academic official (PDF) (undergraduate dean or graduate program director).


Curricular Practical Training is work experience which is either required of all students in a specific degree program or, alternatively, which is listed in the course catalogue as offering credit that will directly count towards a student's degree credit requirements. This may, but will not always, include for-credit internships and cooperative education programs. In very rare cases, it may also include independent study and/or graduate research. Students pursuing full-time CPT for 12 months or more in one degree level become ineligible for OPT in that same degree level.

Students must earn academic credit(s) for the proposed employment that counts towards their degree requirements.

To meet the definition of CPT, the employment must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The employment is part of a formal Cooperative Education program.
  • The employment satisfies a required internship or practicum which is clearly detailed in the catalogue.
  • The employment will yield crucial data which is necessary to complete the student's required thesis or dissertation, i.e., it will be impossible to complete the thesis or dissertation without this employment.
  • The employment is necessary for the student to complete a project for which he or she will receive academic credit that directly counts towards the student's formal degree requirements. It will be impossible for the student to complete the project without this particular employment, and the project will earn credits that will fulfill a specific degree requirement in the student's program.
  • The employment is absolutely necessary to complete an assigned project which is mandated by the professor for all students in a particular course, and the course is both required by the curriculum and listed in the course catalog.

An application for CPT must be accompanied by a form from an academic official (PDF) (undergraduate dean or graduate program director) which certifies, among other things, specifically how the training will be evaluated and why the employment is absolutely necessary, i.e., required, to fulfill a requirement.