Part Time CPT vs. Full Time CPT for International Students

Updated on April 8, 2024

At a Glance

  • International students in the US with F-1 or J-1 status have limited employment opportunities.
  • On-campus employment is allowed with certain restrictions and paperwork.
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is available for F-1 students, allowing part-time or full-time work related to their academic course.
  • CPT authorization must be obtained from the university’s International Students Office, and changes in CPT require prior permission.


If you are a student with F-1 or J-1 status, employment opportunities for you in the US could be limited.

Further, international students cannot work without approval and permission by the university. They might need to return back to your home country if they work without proper approvals. As a matter of fact, J-1 and F-2 students are not allowed to work off-campus without prior approval from International Students Office (for e.g. DISSA at PSU).

However, there is some relief. You can work on-campus with a few restrictions.

  • You must get your paperwork completed by International Students Office
  • You must have a social security number

Curricular Practical Training for F-1 Students

If you want to accept employment off-campus, it is essential that you pursue CPT, Curricular Practical Training. CPT is an employment which is also a part of the established curriculum.

CPT is only available for students with F-1 status who are enrolled in a full-time academic course. However, if you have enrolled yourself in English language programs, you are not eligible for CPT.

It is essential that students enroll themselves full-time during fall and winter CPT. Here are the number of credit hours under full-time enrolment CPT:

  • For undergraduate students: 12 credit hours
  • Graduate students: 8 credit hours
  • Graduate student instructors: 6 credit hours
  • Graduate student research assistants: 6 credit hours

What is the Difference between Part-Time and Full-Time CPT?

You can enroll yourself in a part-time or full-time CPT. Here is the basic difference:

  • An employment which requires you to work for 20 hours or more per week, is considered as full-time CPT.
  • On the other hand, an employment in which you are only required to work for 20 hours or lesser per week, is termed as part-time CPT.
  • Additionally, due to work hour requirements, you cannot enroll yourself into an OPT with a full-time CPT. However, this is not the case with part-time CPT.

When Can You Begin Your CPT?

  • You have 90 days to apply for the CPT from the end of your first year of study. You cannot begin your CPT until and unless your first academic year is complete.
  • Additionally, you cannot start working until you have obtained the CPT authorization from your university’s International Students Office.
  • Further, you cannot continue working if your authorization has expired or you have graduated.

Can You Have Full-Time CPT Instead of Part-Time CPT?

For any change in the CPT, you need prior permission from your university’s International Students Office. Further, if you apply to a full-time CPT from part-time CPT or vice versa, you need to apply for a new CPT authorization.

What Should You If You Want To Quit Your Training Before The Authorized CPT End Date?

In such an event, it is highly recommended that you contact your university’s International Students Office immediately and get your CPT authorized dates amended. This is particularly important if you are authorized for full-time CPT. This will prevent your eligibility from counting against the eligibility required for OPT.

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Wrapping Up

We hope this article would have helped you in understanding the basic differences between part-time CPT and full-time CPT.

Are you already involved in a CPT? How is your experience? Do share with us in the comments below.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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