This page provides international students (F-1 or J-1 visas) with important information pertaining to cooperative education (co-op). Here you will learn about work authorization and co-op policies, access useful resources and forms and more.
Curricular Practical Training, also known as CPT, allows F-1 students to engage in off-campus employment as long as it is an integral part of their curriculum.
The types of employment available include: alternate work/study internship, cooperative education (co-op), or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school.
For a complete description of CPT, please contact Emily Dutch, Director of Student Services (916-325-4630, email@example.com).
Pre-requisites and Requirements
- CPT must be an integral part of your curriculum and must be required by your academic program.
- You must be receiving course credit throughout the CPT period (DCUs count as course credit).
- You must secure relevant co-op employment.
- Co-ops cannot occur on your last term of studies (exception for transfers from another institution).
How to Obtain CPT
You are responsible for obtaining CPT (work authorization) prior to each co-op.
- Successfully secure co-op employment through: SCDConline or a self-directed job search.
- Communicate with your co-op coordinator to obtain the Supplemental Co-op Agreement for International Students and the Student Co-op Registration Agreement - International Students forms.
- Print and complete the forms. Schedule an appointment with your co-op coordinator before your co-op begins.
- After your co-op coordinator signs the forms to approve the co-op, you will proceed to the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office to continue the work authorization process.
- All paperwork must be submitted to ISSS PRIOR to employment start date.
- ISSS will process your employment paperwork and update your I-20. Paperwork may take up to 72 hours to be processed by ISSS, so plan accordingly.
- You will be notified by ISSS when your I-20 is available for pick up.
- You must collect your I-20 from ISSS before beginning your co-op.
- If a social security number is needed for your co-op, first verify with ISSS. If they instruct you to apply for a social security number, please do so by visiting a social security office. ISSS will provide you with complete instructions on how to obtain a social security number. Please note that it can take 3 weeks for you to receive your social security card via mail. Be sure to plan accordingly.
Duration of CPT
- CPT will be issued to you for the length of your co-op.
- Employment dates and company information listed on the Student Co-op Registration Agreement - International Students form are exactly what appears on your I-20.
- It is your responsibility to track the number of CPT days used while on co-op and calculate how many CPT days are remaining. You may also consult with ISSS to acquire this information.
- You are responsible for obtaining CPT (work authorization) prior to each co-op.
- CPT can be approved for part-time co-ops (20 hours per week) or full-time co-ops (32-40 hours per week), depending on the type of CPT.
Changes to CPT
- Any work interruptions or date changes while on authorized CPT must be reported to a student's co-op coordinator and ISSS BEFORE the change(s) occur(s).
- Your co-op coordinator may require written approval from your co-op employer, should your dates of employment change.
- To implement any CPT employment changes, ISSS requires an email from your co-op coordinator or a member of Steinbright.
F-1 students may qualify for Optional Practical Training (OPT). This allows you to engage in temporary off-campus employment to gain practical experience in your field of study.
To be eligible for OPT, you must have been lawfully enrolled, on a full-time basis, at a Department of Homeland Security-approved school in the U.S. for one full academic year.
OPT is available both before and after completion of your educational objective, but different rules apply to pre- and post- completion OPT.
OPT must be directly related to the student's major area of study.
Please be advised that all co-op employment is Curricular Practical Training (CPT), not Optional Practical Training (OPT). Should you have any questions, please contact Emily Dutch in Student Services (916-325-4630, firstname.lastname@example.org).
OPT Eligibility and International Co-op
- To maintain OPT eligibility, full-time CPT cannot exceed 364 days. Please understand that holidays and weekends count toward CPT.
- If you work more than 364 days in the U.S., you forfeit OPT eligibility.
- Use of part-time CPT does not affect OPT eligibility.
- International co-op does not count towards the 364 CPT days.
International Co-op Reminders and Information
- Notify ISSS of your co-op abroad before your departure.
- Full-time registration is maintained while abroad.
- Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) will remain active.
- No CPT (work authorization) required.
International House Philadelphia - Offers a full spectrum of programs that create individuals who are able to work and interact successfully with people from all backgrounds. IHP offers courses in English as well as other languages that can be taken by all students.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation - For information related to obtaining a Pennsylvania Driver's License.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - This is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.
U.S. Department of State - For information pertaining to foreign affairs and international relations.