Ph.D. Programs With Day 1 CPT

Updated on April 29, 2024

What CPTs are available for you? More importantly, does CPT for Ph.D. students even exist? Even if it is possible, how will you finance it? Below are some answers to the questions you may have about Ph.D. Day 1 CPT.

What is CPT

Curricular Practical Training (also called CPT) is the work-related training and experience that forms an integral part of a qualification. Students on F1 visas often have CPT’s worked into their degree program. CPT employment will be in the form of on-campus employment or a paid internship off campus. The employment itself will be in the field in which you are currently studying and will help you gain valuable knowledge and experience in a real work environment.

Is There CPT for Ph.D. Students?

The more common CPT’s for F1 students are for Master’s degrees. But some schools may offer a day 1 CPT Ph.D. in your field of study. The most important thing is to find an advisor at the university who will recommend that you pursue a Ph.D. with CPT programs as a set requirement. CPT rules for Ph.D. students need to comply with the immigration laws administered by the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). But, ultimately your school forms its own rules within the immigration laws for its students.

You will need to research and find CPT’s available for your specific field of study. Your effort will determine whether you get a Ph.D. with the CPT program.

Types of CPT

There are many types of CPT’s for students. It doesn’t matter what field of studies you are specializing in. Here are the main types of CPT for Ph.D. students.

Required CPT for Ph.D. Students

For this type, your course or degree requires you to complete a CPT program. You will not graduate unless you complete the CPT. The CPT program is woven into the curriculum of the degree. The CPT will obviously be in the direct field of your particular research. A Ph.D. advisor at your university will submit a written statement that supports these days 1 CPT Ph.D. programs.

Optional CPT for Ph.D. Students

These type of day 1 CPT Ph.D. programs are not required for graduation. But, it will supply you with the option to take part in one, which could be very helpful for your career. Please still make sure that you comply with all the rules of the Ph.D. day 1 CPT regulations at your school. Make sure that it allows you to accept employment off campus before you blindly proceed to do so.

Part-Time Vs. Full-Time CPT for Ph.D. Students

There are two sub-categories in the CPT rules for Ph.D. students. You are either allowed to work part-time or full-time.

  1. Part-Time – This regulation will allow you to work 20 hours per week. You are not allowed to work more than these 20 hours. If you do, it will be regarded as a violation of your visa. Your employment may either be on or off campus (according to the agreement between your university, the USCIS, and yourself).
  2. Full-Time – This regulation allows you to work for 40 hours a week. But, remember you may still only be on a student visa. So you are then still required to fulfill the mandatory studying requirements whilst you are working. Many students take online classes after work or over the weekends. Once again, keep a close relationship with your school to ensure that you fulfill all the requirements to keep your visa status. Your employment will be on or off campus as agreed and allowed by the USCIS.

Ph.D. CPT Eligibility Criteria

Unfortunately, you can’t just walk into your school and demand a day 1 CPT Ph.D. You need to be eligible for it. Here are the main requirements for a Ph.D. with CPT.

Prescribed by an Advisor

Most programs are supervised by advisors at the different day 1 CPT universities for Ph.D. Your advisor must prescribe a CPT program before you will be eligible. Ph.D. courses are usually research programs only. But, you will be eligible if your advisor can prescribe that work-related experience is necessary for the completion of your Ph.D.

A Valid F1 Visa

You must be the holder of a legal F1 visa that allows you to study in the U.S.

Basic F1 visa requirements are:

  • Visa must be properly maintained for each semester of studies
  • You need a chosen major
  • You need a specific and major-related internship
  • You can’t be a visiting exchange student

University Enrollment and Course Credits

Your course of study must also comply with the following criteria:

  • You must be enrolled for a full academic year (during the CPT)
  • You must be enrolled for 1 to 2 units of a major related internship
  • CPT must be a prescribed part of the course curriculum
  • You need to submit a written CPT job offer with the CPT authorization request
  • You need a university approved health insurance provider

Documentation for Ph.D. CPT

Here is a list of the paperwork you will need to apply for day 1 CPT Ph.D. programs. Please note this list is generalized and your school may require other documentation. So consult with your school to make sure you comply with all the requirements.

Documentation for day 1 CPT Ph.D. universities:

  • CPT authorization request form
  • CPT online workshop or other class completions proof (like an email or certificate)
  • Ph.D. advisor recommendation form for CPT
  • A detailed training description from your employer that aligns with the curriculum of your school
  • A copy of your current valid I-20
  • A copy of your current valid I-94
  • Proof of your enrollment into the applicable CPT course

How to Apply for CPT as a Ph.D. Student

Here are the basic steps you need to fulfill to apply for your CPT as a Ph.D. student.

1. Plan Your Application

The application processing time and authorization can take longer than 2 weeks. Plan well and get your paperwork in order ahead of time to prevent any undue delays.

2. Take Your School’s Pre-CPT Prescribed Class

Some schools have online classes that are prescribed. Complete the class and obtain proof that you have successfully completed it.

3. Detailed Training Description

Make contact with your CPT employer and get a Detailed Training Description outlining the experience you will gain with them.

4. CPT Authorization Department of Your School

Schedule a meeting with the CPT authorization department of your school. Take all the necessary paperwork along and complete the interview and application.

5. International Student and Scholar Advisor Review

A representative or advisor will review your application and present you with a CPT I-20 once you have been approved. This can take up 2 weeks or more.

6. Approval Confirmation

You will receive confirmation of your approval (most probably per e-mail). Then only are you allowed to start working with your CPT.

7. Sign, Date, and Store Your CPT Approval

You need to sign and date your CPT approval documentation. Store it in a safe and accessible place for whenever you need it in the future.

Ph.D. Programs with Day 1 CPT

Here you can find a few good options to consider for your day 1 CPT Ph.D. program.

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology

This university runs a whole host of programs in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. They have some of the lowest tuition fees in the state of Pennsylvania for private schools. You can contact them to ask some more questions about the Harrisburg university Ph.D. CPT.

University of the Cumberlands

This school has over 40 majors and 8 focus areas for graduate programs. They currently host more than 11,000 students combined. They also have students who are enrolled online. Their CPT page will help to answer any questions you may have. Make contact with the University of Cumberlands Ph.D. day 1 CPT department to see if you are eligible to study with them.

United States University

The USU is situated in San Diego California. They have a dedicated CPT program for internationals at the school. Just make sure whether they offer a program that will accommodate your field of Ph.D.

Loans for CPT Ph.D. Students

Even if you are able to take part in CPT, it does not guarantee that you will be able to cover all your expenses while finishing your Ph.D. Tuition fees and other studying-related expenses tend to pile up and can easily cause a lot of added pressure.

Personal loans for international students from Stilt can help to cover your costs and ease the loan. You don’t even need a cosigner to be eligible for this loan.

Here are the basic steps to getting a personal loan for Ph.D. CPT students with Stilt:


You can apply online for an international student loan between $1,000 and $25,000. Read through the basic eligibility criteria and get your paperwork in order. Make sure you submit any relevant information that may be required. Stronger applications get better loan offers.

Get Approved

You will receive feedback within 24 hours of submitting your application. If everything is in order, you will receive a promissory note with your loan offer. Sign and return the note if you have decided to accept the loan.

Start Repayment

The loan will reflect in your account within 2-3 business days. Setup your repayment method online and start repaying your loan.

It’s that simple!

As a bonus, if you complete between 6 and 12 months of successful monthly payments you can apply for an international student loan refinancing. It can help you to get a lower interest rate on your loan and lower your monthly payments.


Ph.D. day 1 CPT university programs can help you to stay and work in the U.S. Make contact with the schools that you are eligible for and start applying early. You can also apply for an international student loan whenever you have difficulty paying your study related expenses. With the help of Stilt, you can have a successful career in the U.S.!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Are Ph.D. Programs with Day 1 CPT?

Ph.D. programs with Day 1 CPT allow international students on F-1 visas to start Curricular Practical Training (CPT) from the first day of their program. These programs are designed to integrate practical training as part of the curriculum from the beginning of the academic course.

How Common Are Day 1 CPT Ph.D. Programs in the U.S.?

Day 1 CPT Ph.D. programs are not very common in the U.S. Most universities offer CPT after a year of study, but a few institutions provide Day 1 CPT options, mainly in technical and professional fields.

What Should I Consider When Choosing a Ph.D. Program with Day 1 CPT?

When choosing a Ph.D. program with Day 1 CPT, consider the program’s accreditation, the university’s reputation, alignment with your academic and professional goals, and compliance with F-1 visa regulations.

Are Day 1 CPT Programs Legitimate?

Day 1 CPT programs are legitimate if offered by accredited institutions and if they comply with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations. However, it’s crucial to research the program thoroughly to ensure it meets legal and academic standards.

How Does Day 1 CPT Benefit Ph.D. Students?

Day 1 CPT benefits Ph.D. students by allowing them to gain practical work experience in their field of study from the start of their program, enhancing their academic learning with real-world experience.

Can Participating in a Day 1 CPT Program Impact My Visa Status?

Participating in a Day 1 CPT program can impact your visa status if the program does not comply with F-1 visa regulations. It’s essential to ensure that the CPT is an integral part of the curriculum.

What Types of Work Can I Do Under Day 1 CPT in a Ph.D. Program?

Under Day 1 CPT in a Ph.D. program, you can engage in work directly related to your field of study. The work should be part of your academic program’s curriculum and approved by the university.

How Long Can I Participate in CPT During My Ph.D.?

The duration of CPT during a Ph.D. program varies depending on the university’s policy and your academic curriculum. It is generally tied to the length of your academic program.

What Happens If I Change My Mind About the Day 1 CPT Program?

If you change your mind about the Day 1 CPT program, you can transfer to another program or institution, but you must maintain your F-1 visa status and follow the proper procedures for transferring.

How Can I Find Accredited Ph.D. Programs with Day 1 CPT?

To find accredited Ph.D. programs with Day 1 CPT, research universities’ official websites, consult with academic advisors, and verify the accreditation and compliance with F-1 visa regulations.

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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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