Curricular and Optional Practical Training

This page contains information for graduate students pursuing Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Undergraduate students should review this CPT page instead.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a program that allows international students the opportunity to obtain work experience that is beneficial to their education.
Students receive academic credit for their work experience although the credit cannot be included on the graduate degree plan and does not count towards the credits required for the degree which is being pursued. 
CPT is a separate program from Optional Practical Training (OPT) which can be used after graduation, and which does not involve academic credit. Computer Science graduate students pursue a CPT opportunity for three reasons: 

  •  CPT can provide a good experience in the workplace.
  •  The time spent in CPT, if less than 12 months of full-time work, does not count against a student’s OPT time limit.
  •  Financial support is often unavailable, especially during the summer, and CPT internships can pay normal wages.

Departmental Rules

The use of CPT is subject to two departmental rules:

  • The experience needs to be one that advances the student's training in the field in which the student is pursuing a degree.
  • CPT is not to delay the student's timeliness to completion.


A student becomes eligible for CPT after two semesters of CS graduate coursework. To be eligible for CPT the student also must be in good academic standing ( not on academic probation) and the student must have the agreement of a faculty member to serve as the CPT advisor. Other government or university-mandated eligibility must be met and students are responsible for knowing the different rule sets.

Students who have completed one semester of academic-year CPT (Fall or Spring) are ineligible for a second academic-year semester. They may still undertake Summer CPT up to the government/university limit.

CPT Approval

Students should take the following steps to get set up for CPT:

  1. Students should complete the CPT online workshop.
  2. Students should complete all student portions of the required CPT paperwork.
  3. Students should drop this paperwork off at the front desk (4-192 Keller) to the attention of the Graduate Program Coordinator. Students will need to submit their CPT paperwork and a copy of their offer letter for employment.
    1. The Graduate Program Coordinator will complete both the advisor and instructor portion of the CPT paperwork. Your faculty advisor won't need to sign this paperwork or be involved in the process for CPT.
    2. The Graduate Program Coordinator will email the student a permission number to add CSCI 5996 to a future semester as well as instructions on writing a paper to receive credit for CSCI  5996.
  4. Students should register for CSCI 5996 online using the permission number emailed to them (must be registered prior to submitting paperwork to ISSS).
  5. Students should bring the completed CPT paperwork to the ISSS office.

CSCI 5996 is a one-credit course taken pass/fail. CSCI 5996 will not count for credits or requirements in our graduate program.

  • Students taking Academic Year CPT may not hold concurrent TA or RA appointments.
  • Students with full-time Summer CPT may not hold concurrent TA or RA appointments.

Exceptions, Appeals, and Petitions

Any exception or appeal to this policy must be made in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).