Student Services

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school."  Thus, CPT for F-1 students is intended to provide work experience in the U.S. in situations where the work serves as an integral part of a student's academic program and an established curriculum, prior to completion of that program.

General information about CPT for all Penn students can be found through ISSS. The information below is specific to CPT for Weitzman students.

Summer CPT


Eligibility for Summer CPT:

1. Students must have completed two semesters of full-time study with an active SEVIS record to be eligible for CPT.

Exception: USCIS offers an exception for graduate students whose programs require immediate participation in an internship, a practicum, or other employment. CPLN and HSPV students are required to complete an internship in order to meet the degree requirements, and therefore may be eligible for CPT upon arrival. However, because internships in these programs are scheduled to be completed in the summer, this exception will likely be relevant only in rare cases or during the COVID-19 pandemic when continuing students have been completing coursework remotely during the academic year but are able to arrive in the U.S. at the start of summer 2021 to immediately begin an internship. Because ARCH, LARP, FNAR, MSD, and MUSA do not require internships as a component of academic study, students in these programs are not eligible for “day one” CPT.

2. All students applying for CPT must be in good academic standing. Student on probation will not be approved for summer CPT until spring term grades are submitted and reviewed for academic standing and the probation status is cleared.

3. Students must have a confirmed offer before applying for CPT. You may not apply for CPT before receiving an official offer letter. However, your application for CPT must then be approved before you begin your internship. Note: The employment must relate to the student’s major and the experience must be part of the program of study.  Employment and opportunities unrelated to your academic program are not eligible for CPT.

4. Students must complete the application process, receive CPT approval, and begin work by the following deadlines in order to ensure they have enough time during the summer to meet the minimum time commitment required for CPT:

  • ARCH and LARP: CPT must be approved by and the position must start no later than June 18, 2021 in order to fit in the 10 weeks required for CPT.
  • CPLN and HSPV: CPT must be approved and the position must start no later than July 16, 2021 in order to fit in the six weeks required for CPT.

5. Students may pursue full-time (more than 20 hours per week) or part-time (less than 20 hours per week) CPT during the summer. During the academic year, students are only eligible for part-time CPT.

6. PhD students on dissertation status are eligible for CPT provided the chair of their graduate group writes a letter to student services and ISSS confirming that the work experience is benefitting the student's PhD course of study. Dissertation status replaces the required CPT course that masters degree students must take.

How to Apply for CPT

 

CPT is required for all positions, paid or unpaid. The only time you do not need CPT is if the employer for your position (paid or unpaid) is Penn.

1. Obtain a copy of your official offer letter on company letterhead that is signed by the prospective employer. A photocopy is acceptable. The letter should include:

  • Employer's name and full address
  • Your dates of employment
  • The number of hours to be worked per week
  • Description of duties

2. Send this letter to your academic department contact:

3. Your academic department contact will then recommend you for CPT to the instructor of the Curricular Practical Training course and send your offer letter to the course instructor.

4. Your academic department contact will register you for the Curricular Practical Training course and send you a confirmation email.

5. After you have received this email, login to iPenn to access the CPT electronic request form. As part of your iPenn eform submission, you will be asked to scan and upload the following:

  • Copy of your current I-20
  • Copy of your passport
  • Photocopy of your I-94 card (front and back if issued paper I-94) or U.S. entry/admission stamp in passport (if issued electronic I-94). Details about the I-94 can be found at https://global.upenn.edu/isss/i94
  • Copy of your official offer letter as described in Step 1 (above)

6. Your CPT request will be electronically sent to the Weitzman School Office of Student Services (des-studentservices@design.upenn.edu) via email for review and recommendation. If the Student Services staff recommends your CPT request, it will be forwarded to an ISSS advisor for final approval. Without this recommendation, ISSS is unable to process this request. Student services only approves requests for students who are in good academic standing (see eligibility requirements at the top of this page).

7. If you are eligible and have the documentation required for CPT, an ISSS advisor will authorize CPT by issuing an updated I-20, and you will receive an email when this is complete.  ISSS processing time is 3-5 business days from receipt of the Weitzman School Office of Student Services’ review/recommendation.  During the peak/high-volume period, processing may take longer.

8. You may engage in CPT employment only after you have received the I-20 with your CPT authorization from ISSS. This work authorization is valid only for the specific employer, location, time period and on a part-time or full-time basis as approved and recorded by an ISSS advisor as evidenced on your I-20 issued for CPT.

9. Students must have their CPT I-20 and may ONLY work during the dates listed for the CPT period. You must not continue employment beyond the date authorized unless you apply and are granted an extension of your permission to work from ISSS. To do so would be a violation of your nonimmigrant student status, and such violation would jeopardize your ability to remain in the U.S.

10. The instructor will email you with instructions about the course. If you do not hear from the instructor by the start of your CPT date, please contact Weitzman Student Services at des-studentservices@design.upenn.edu.

11. Students will be billed the $500 CPT course tuition, and will see this charge appear on their Penn bill in May or June (billing month depends upon when the student enrolls in the CPT course).

FAQs

 

I have been offered an unpaid position this summer. Do I still need CPT?
Yes – CPT is required for all positions, paid and unpaid. The only exception is that CPT is not needed for paid (or unpaid) positions if the employer is Penn.

I am an MFA student and don’t see information above for MFA students who want to do CPT. Is it allowed?
Yes, MFA students are eligible for CPT with qualifying positions, similar to their peers in Weitzman’s other degree programs. MFA students don’t usually pursue CPT so the School doesn’t roster a routine course for MFA students in the summer, but Student Services can assist MFA students with CPT registration on a case-by-case basis.

Is there a minimum number of days that I need to work during the summer in order to be eligible for CPT?
Yes, but this varies by department. Because departments may have different goals or expectations for what a student will learn from their internship, each program has set a minimum amount of time that students must work during the summer in order to qualify for CPT. Those minimum durations are as follows:

  • ARCH: students must work a minimum of 35 hours per week for 10 consecutive weeks
  • CPLN: students must work a minimum of 6 consecutive weeks
  • HSPV: students must work a minimum of 6 consecutive weeks
  • LARP: students must work a minimum of 35 hours per week for 10 consecutive weeks

I see that the CPT course rostered for my department starts on May 24, but my employer has set up a start date for me later in the summer. Is that OK?
Yes. As long as your internship is for the minimum amount of time required by your department, you may complete it at any time between the start and end dates listed for Weitzman’s summer CPT course. Please note that you must also adhere to the employment authorization dates listed on your CPT application/approval through ISSS.

I received a job offer for the summer, but it is for a position that doesn’t relate to my field of study. My financial situation requires that I work this summer, so I would still like to apply for CPT. Is this permissible?
Unfortunately, no. Only internships and summer employment that are directly related to your degree and course of study are eligible for CPT authorization. You may not undertake work opportunities that are not related to your program and have not been approved by ISSS.

I am a Weitzman PhD student on dissertation status. Can I do CPT?
Yes, if the chair of your graduate group approves, PhD students on dissertation may apply for CPT. The Graduate Group Chair must provide a letter to Student Services and ISSS confirming that the work experience is benefitting their PhD.

CPT Course Descriptions

 

CPT summer courses carry a credit value of .20 CU, but these course units do not count towards the total CUs required by the program for degree completion. This course consists of online readings and assignments that focus on the work experience. The grade type for CPT courses is Pass/Fail.

ARCH 674-920: This course provides international Master of Architecture students the opportunity for practical training in architecture in the United States (CPT). The course develops critical thinking about the organization, operation, and ethics of professional practice in architecture.  Coursework includes on-line readings and assignments that focus on the work experience.  It also allows students to begin accumulating the training units required for professional licensure following the definitions developed by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NACARB) Intern Development Program (IDP). This course will allow international Master of Architecture students to work in an internship with an architecture firm in the United States without shortening their limited OPT time.  The course is offered for .20 course units during the summer.  The employment must relate to the major and the experience must be part of the program of study.  The course may be taken multiple times after completing at least two terms of coursework; students are not eligible after graduation.  Eligible students must work a minimum of 35 hours per week for 10 consecutive weeks. 

CPLN 674-920: This course provides international City Planning students the opportunity for practical training in planning the United States (CPT).  The course develops critical thinking about the organization, operation, and ethics of professional practice in planning.  Coursework includes on-line readings and assignments that focus on the work experience.  This course will allow international City Planning students to work in an internship with a planning firm in the United States without shortening their limited OPT time.  The course is offered for .20 course units during the summer.  The employment must relate to the major and the experience must be part of the program of study.  The course may be taken multiple times after completing at least two terms of coursework; students are not eligible after graduation.  Eligible students must work a minimum of 6 consecutive weeks. 

LARP 674-920: This course will allow international Landscape Architecture students to work in an internship with a landscape architecture firm in the United States.  The course develops critical thinking about the organization, operation, and ethics of professional practice in landscape architecture.  Coursework includes on-line readings and assignments that focus on the work experience. This course will allow international Landscape Architecture students to work in an internship with a landscape architecture firm in the United States without shortening their OPT time.  The course is offered for .20 course units during the summer.  The employment must relate to the major and the experience must be part of the program of study.  The course may be taken multiple times after completing at least two terms of coursework; students are not eligible after graduation.  Eligible students must work a minimum of 35 hours per week for 10 consecutive weeks. 

HSPV 674-920: This course provides international Historic Preservation students the opportunity for practical training in preservation in the United States (CPT). The course develops critical thinking about the organization, operation, and ethics of professional practice in preservation. Coursework includes on-line readings and assignments that focus on the work experience. This course will allow international Historic Preservation students to work in an internship with a preservation organization in the United States without shortening their limited OPT time. The course is offered for .20 course units during the summer. The employment must relate to the major and the experience must be part of the program of study. The course may be taken multiple times after completing at least two terms of coursework; students are not eligible after graduation. Eligible students must work a minimum of 6 consecutive weeks.