F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

This information below is designed for students in F-1 status. It provides information about a type of employment authorization called Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Please be aware that CPT opportunities vary from school to school within the University. While some Schools may allow CPT while school is in session most Schools only make CPT available during summer and/or winter vacation period. You must check with your HIO advisor for CPT availability at your particular School.


To be considered CPT, the work must not only be related to the student's major field of study but must also be an integral part of an established curriculum. Employment experience that is required for all students in a degree program always meets the requirements for CPT, regardless of whether academic credit is received for the work.


There are two ways in which students are eligible for CPT. Each faculty at Harvard and each degree program within that faculty has different requirements that affect students' eligibility for CPT. It is advisable to speak with your academic advisor, department administrator, or registrar about the options outlined below before meeting with your advisor in the HIO.

  1. Employment that is a required part of a degree program
    This requirement must be formally documented in school publications. Students must have completed one academic year of full-time study in order to be eligible for CPT. Those who take a leave of absence and are issued a new I-20 with a new SEVIS number must fulfill the one academic year requirement again in order to be eligible for CPT.  Some graduate students may apply for CPT prior to completing one year of full-time study if the degree program requires that the employment begin in the first semester of school. Three requirements must be met for employment that is a required part of a degree program. The student must:
    • have an appropriate job offer
    • maintain lawful F-1 visa status
    • demonstrate that the proposed employment is a requirement for the degree program
  2. Employment that is not required by a degree program
    CPT for academic credits could include training courses such as a field studies course, an independent study or an internship. The training program must be listed in the school's catalogue with the number of credits. There should also be a description of the course with the course objectives clearly defined. Four requirements must be met for employment that is not a required part of a degree program. The student must:
    • have an appropriate job offer
    • maintain lawful F-1 visa status
    • complete at least one academic year as a full-time student in F-1 status
    • demonstrate that they will receive academic credits arising from the proposed employment experience

Duration of CPT

There is no limit to the amount of CPT time students may have as long as they continue to meet all of the application requirements, and continue to maintain full-time enrollment and make normal progress toward their degrees. Students who work for twelve months or more in full-time CPT are no longer eligible for OPT (Optional Practical Training) after graduation.

Depending on the program of study, it may be possible to engage in either part-time CPT (20 hours or less per week) during the academic year or full-time CPT (more than 20 hours per week) during official university vacation periods. Please note, all schools and/or degree programs at Harvard have different CPT availability, as CPT must only be authorized either for employment that is a required part of the degree program or employment for academic credit.