Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
International Students who have completed one academic year (fall, interim, and spring) of study in the U.S. are eligible to apply for off-campus employment authorization. *First-year students are not eligible.
St. Olaf international students are required to register for a credit-based Academic Internship/Independent Study in order to participate in CPT. Additional information about Getting Academic Credit for an Internship is on the Piper Center website. Students must have a job/internship/research offer before applying for CPT and must have CPT authorization before they begin working.
The employment must be directly related to the student’s major. If a student wishes to change jobs during the authorized period of employment, the student must go through the entire process again and re-apply for CPT. If the student is offered multiple opportunities, they must complete the academic internship learning agreement in Handshake for each position/employer, but only need to register for one .25 internship credit.
Simply not getting paid does not exempt you from the need for CPT. However, CPT may not be required for “legitimate” volunteering activities that are altruistic in nature and for which you are donating time with an organization whose primary purpose is civic, charitable, or humanitarian in nature. Check with Caitlin whether your volunteer activity requires CPT or not. If you are paid or reimbursed in any way for your time, you will need CPT.
CPT Application Process for Independent Experiences
- Secure An Internship, Job, Or Research Position
- Identify the Process for Getting Academic Credit for an Internship (Academic Internship)
- Summer Internships: Most students should select the Internship Reflection Seminar option in Handshake – Students choosing .25 credits are waived the cost of the credit and assigned a faculty supervisor. Students choosing .5 or 1.0 credits will need to identify a faculty supervisor (see step below) and pay for the credit. There is no limit to the number of hours you can work with full-time CPT authorization.
- Fall or Spring Semester Internships: First, identify a faculty supervisor in your major. Then, choose the traditional academic internship option in Handshake. Work with your faculty supervisor to identify specific academic requirements that you will submit in the academic internship process. Students are limited to 20 hours per week of employment in total, inclusive of both on- and off-campus employment.
- Interim Internships: Most students should select the Internship Reflection Seminar option in Handshake – This will register you for 1.0 credit hours. Students do also have the option of completing a traditional academic internship (see step above). You can NOT do a class and an internship at the same time. Students must complete at least 120 hours (~30/week) hours in the internship during interim.
- “Request An Experience” In Handshake
If you have questions about Handshake, please ask Bryan Shealer from The Piper Center. After you request an experience, your information will be reviewed by the Piper Center. Your site and faculty supervisors will then receive emails requesting that they approve of your experience.
- Contact Your Site Supervisor To Notify Them Of Your Academic Internship Request.
Site supervisors will receive an email directly from Handshake. Make sure they are expecting this email and to check their spam folders. They must first review and approve the internship before the approval process moves forward.
After your site supervisor, faculty supervisor, Caitlin Lamont Kreienkamp, and the Piper Center have approved your experience, the Registrar’s Office will add the internship & reflection seminar enrollment in SIS and send you an email confirmation! However, you are not done with the CPT authorization yet…
- Make Sure You Have An Offer/Employment Letter From Your Employer
The offer letter should be signed and written on letterhead. It must include all of the following details:
- Your legal name
- Dates of employment
- Paid or unpaid
- Number of hours per week
- Address of the employer and where the work will happen
- A brief description of your duties/responsibilities
- Request CPT Authorization
Email the offer/employment letter mentioned above to Caitlin to complete your CPT Authorization. You will then receive a new Form I-20 showing CPT authorization for the specific employer, location, and dates.
- Pick-up your new I-20 with CPT Authorization from Caitlin
You will provide this I-20 to your employer when completing the I-9 Form (Employment Eligibility Verification) and W-4 (tax form) with your employer. It is your responsibility to cease working after your CPT authorization expires. Please do not rely on your employer to remind you of this.
Keep all Form I-20s issued to you that list CPT.
*Never throw away a Form I-20!*
Every effort has been made to update the information above, however things are subject to change without notice. Please be in contact with Caitlin Lamont Kreienkamp for accurate, timely information about your specific situation. Page Last Updated: November 9th, 2023