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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is the authorized, legal permission to engage in an off-campus work experience when the experience is a required part of MassArt coursework.


When is CPT authorization required?

  • For all internships paid or unpaid
  • For all student teaching paid or unpaid
  • For all independent study courses that have a required internship component
  • For all off-campus practical work experiences for which you will receive credit

What if I do not want to receive academic credit but I want to do an internship?

As an F-1 international student, you cannot legally participate in an internship unless you are receiving academic credit for the opportunity and have been authorized for CPT before beginning work.

Is this the case even if the internship is unpaid?


But what about volunteer work? What is the difference between volunteer work and an unpaid internship?

  • Examples of true volunteer work are: working at an animal shelter, a homeless shelter, or helping to serve food at a soup kitchen
  • Example of an internship: assisting at a graphic design company to learn practical skills and build your resume

How can I figure out if an unpaid opportunity is considered volunteer work or an internship?

Come and speak to Maggie Shirland, International Student Advisor and bring as much information about the opportunity as possible with you.

How do I apply for CPT?

  • In order to be eligible to apply for CPT, you must have been in F-1 status for 2 consecutive semesters (1 academic year)
  • Most F-1 students will follow the Career Development process for applying for and finding an internship for credit at MassArt
  • Once the internship is approved by Career Development, your faculty advisor, and your internship advisor, it will come to IEC for final approval. At that point we will authorize CPT and issue you a new I-20 document with official authorization
  • You cannot begin work until after your CPT has been authorized and you have your new I-20 in hand
  • You must complete all work by the internship end date you indicate in the Career Services database system (which will also be the end date on your I-20 form)
  • Any work performed outside of the indicated start and end dates will be considered unauthorized employment and can affect your legal status
  • Work may be paid or unpaid

Please visit Career Development for information about upcoming events such as the Internship Fair, Interviewing Workshops, etc.