Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training is defined as educational, “alternate work/study, internship, cooperative or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school” [8 CFR § 214.2(f)(10)(i)]. The regulations state that CPT must be an integral part of an established curriculum.

Curricular Practical Training is temporary authorization for work or practical experience available to SMU F-1 students who have been enrolled on full-time for at least one academic year, depending on the availability of CPT-eligible courses. The only way a student may be eligible for CPT authorization before completing a full academic year of study at SMU is if your degree requires all international or domestic students to engage in practical experience that is directly related to the curriculum.

There are two ways under which CPT employment authorization can be authorized at SMU:

  1. If your degree offers a "for-credit internship" course that requires employment.
  2. If you are a PhD student that is required to engage in work or a practicum experience that is considered an integral part of the graduate research for a thesis or dissertation.


  • All CPT Applications must be submitted to the ISSS Office by the deadlines listed below.
  • The CPT Application is submitted via DocuSign; which includes a job offer letter, specifics of the CPT-eligible course verified by an academic/faculty advisor, and a signed legal agreement between the employer and SMU.


Employment Start and End Dates:

  • Employment will begin the week before classes begin and end no later than Commencement Day. Please note that CPT work authorization is approved on a semester-basis as the work is required of a specific course.
    Click here to view the SMU Academic Calendar.
  • Meadows performance students can submit a CPT Application throughout the semester as long as they are enrolled in a performance course that requires practical experience.

Upcoming CPT Deadlines:



All F-1 students who wish to gain practical experience off campus in a paid or unpaid position must have proper authorization from the ISSS Office before starting employment.


Step By Step Process: 

1. Meet with your Academic/Faculty advisor about what internship or practicum courses are available to you based on your program. Please note that not all SMU programs offer courses that require practical experience.

2. Be enrolled for the course that requires work authorization and discuss with your Academic/Faculty advisor what kind of off-campus work will fulfill course requirements.

3. Secure a job offer letter. If you need assistance in searching for employers, please contact the Hegi career center located in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center or online at

4. Prepare documents to submit with your CPT Request Form:

A. Have contact information for your Academic/Faculty advisor*.

B. Have contact information of your supervisor or the representative of your employer who has authority to sign a legal agreement.

- This person can be, but is not limited to, your supervisor, a Human Resources representative, or the president of a company.

*Students who are applying for CPT based on a thesis/dissertation requirement, must attach a letter from their academic advisor stating how employment is directly related to thesis/dissertation. 

5. Submit your CPT application via DocuSign (link)

Once you have submitted your portion of the CPT Request Form, you can expect the following:

1. Your Academic/Faculty advisor will receive an email from DocuSign to sign and verify your enrollment and details of the course.

2. Once your Academic/Faculty advisor has completed their portion of the request form, the employer representative will receive an email from DocuSign to sign the legal agreement.

3. Once the employer representative has signed, the ISSS Director will receive an email from DocuSign to sign the legal agreement on behalf of SMU.

4. Once the ISSS Director signs, the ISSS office will review the completed CPT application and process your new I-20 with CPT Authorization.

5. If approved by the ISSS office, you will receive an email when your new I-20 is ready.  NOTE: You are not allowed to begin employment until you have received your new I-20 with CPT Authorization reflected on page 2.

6. Pick up your new I-20 and sign page 1. You may now take your new I-20 to the Human Resources office of your new company and begin their onboarding process.


Any days of work without authorization will be considered a violation of your status. If you do not have a Social Security Number, you must apply for one.


CPT Tutorial for Students

CPT for Students by smuisss


CPT Tutorial for Campus Partners

CPT for On-Campus Partners by smuisss


CPT Tutorial for Employers 

CPT for Employers (updated) by smuisss