Graduate curricular and optional practical training (CPT)

This page contains information for graduate students pursuing curricular practical training (CPT). Undergraduate students should review this CPT page instead.


Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a program that allows international students to gain work experience that is beneficial to their education.
Students receive academic credit for their work experience although the credit cannot be included in the graduate degree plan and does not count towards the credits required for the degree which is being pursued.

CPT is a separate program from Optional Practical Training (OPT) which can be used after graduation, and which does not involve academic credit. Computer Science graduate students pursue a CPT opportunity for three reasons:

  • CPT can provide good experience in the workplace.
  • The time spent in CPT, if less than 12 months of full-time work, does not count against a student’s OPT time limit.
  • Financial support is often unavailable, especially during the summer, and CPT internships can pay normal wages.

Departmental rules

The use of CPT is subject to two departmental rules:

  • The experience needs to be one that advances the student's training in the field in which the student is pursuing a degree.
  • CPT is not to delay academic progress.


A student becomes eligible for CPT after two semesters of computer science graduate coursework. To be eligible for CPT, the student must be in good academic standing. Other government or university-mandated eligibility must be followed and understanding/adherence to rule sets outside of the department is the responsibility of the student. Students who have completed one semester of academic-year CPT (fall or spring) are ineligible for a second academic-year semester of CPT. They may still undertake summer CPT up to the government/university limit.

CPT approval

Students should take the following steps to get set up for CPT (for more details on each step, go to this ISSS website):

  1. Receive a job offer.
  2. Students should complete the CPT online workshop on MyISSS.
  3. Students should submit the Course Instructor Verification Form and their offer letter for employment to the Graduate Program Coordinators at Faculty advisors won't need to sign any paperwork or be involved in the process for CPT.
    1. The Graduate Program Coordinator will complete the Course Instructor Verification Form for the CPT application.
    2. The Graduate Program Coordinator will email the student a permission number to add CSCI 5996 to a future semester as well as details on receiving a grade for CSCI 5996.
  4. Students should register for CSCI 5996 online using the permission number emailed to them (must be registered prior to submitting paperwork to ISSS).
  5. Students complete all three sections of the CPT Request in MyISSS.
    1. Upload CPT supporting documents
    2. Enter CPT employment details
    3. Submit CPT request to the Graduate Program Coordinator who completed the Course Instructor Verification Form to complete step 3 above. Do not submit this request to the Director of Graduate Studies or a Faculty Advisor.

CSCI 5996 is a one-credit course taken pass/fail. CSCI 5996 will not count for credits or requirements in our graduate program. CSCI 5997 will be used for any CPT extension requests since CSCI 5996 cannot be added to the same semester twice.  Students completing summer employment will register for CSCI 5996 in the following fall semester. 

  • Students taking academic year CPT may not hold concurrent TA or RA appointments.
  • Students with full-time summer CPT may not hold concurrent TA or RA appointments.

Exceptions, appeals, and petitions

Any exception or appeal to this policy, shall be made to the Director of Graduate Studies.