Skip to main content

You are here

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Disclaimer: Please note, these directions are meant to help you in completing your application but should not be considered legal advice. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ultimately provides the decision on your OPT application. It is your responsibility, as the OPT applicant, to ensure that your OPT application is accurate and complete before you submit it to the US government. Incomplete applications could result in a delay in processing time or denial. MassArt in no event shall be held liable for any delay, denial, or mistake on your OPT application.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment directly related to a student’s major field of study, and it may be used before or after completion of an academic program. OPT may be used for 12 months for each degree level. OPT may be used before or after the completion of a program but it is advisable to use only after graduation. Students on post-completion OPT are limited to 90 days of unemployment. Students with certain majors may be eligible for an additional 24 month STEM extension of post-completion OPT.

MassArt must recommend OPT for the student. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will provide final approval and issue an (Employment Authorization Document) EAD. The applicant must have an EAD card before they can begin OPT employment.


  • Must have completed one full academic year of full-time study
  • Employment must be in the student’s major field of study
  • Must not have not used 12 months or more of full-time CPT (Curricular Practical Training)

Note: Students applying for Post-completion OPT will lose their OPT eligibility if they depart the U.S. during their grace period and USCIS has not received their OPT application prior to departure. Students will be unable to return until OPT is approved.

opt categories

Pre-completion (rare)
  • Academic Year

    • During fall and/or spring semesters, the student has not completed required coursework. On- and off-campus work combined cannot exceed a total of 20 hours per week

  • Vacation Period
    • Authorization may be part-time or full-time
Post-completion (most common)
  • After completion of degree program
    • Authorization is always full-time and you are required to work 20 hours or more per week
STEM (only students from certain majors are eligible)
  • Follows post-completion OPT

    • Authorization is always full-time and you are required to work 20 or more hours per week