Graduate curricular and optional practical training (CPT & OPT)

This page contains information for CS&E graduate students (Computer Science and Data Science) pursuing curricular practical training (CPT). Undergraduate students should review this CPT page instead.


The Curricular Practical Training (CPT) program allows international students to gain work experience that benefits their education. Students receive academic credit by enrolling in CSCI 5996 or CSCI 5997 for their work experience, which will show on their academic transcript. The credit earned through CSCI 5996 or 5997 does not count toward degree requirements. 

Computer Science graduate students pursue a CPT opportunity for three reasons:

  • CPT can provide a 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 the following departmental rules:

  • The student is currently admitted to one of our department's graduate programs.
  • The experience must advance 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 graduate program coursework. The student must be in good academic standing to be eligible for CPT. Other government or university-mandated eligibility must be followed, and understanding/adherence to rule sets outside of the department is the student's responsibility. 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.

  • 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.

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.
  4. Students should register for CSCI 5996 online using the permission number emailed to them (must be registered before 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 the 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 (CPT) and CSCI 5997 (CPT Extension)

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.  CSCI 5996 and CSCI 5997 do not require any academic work. An S grade for CSCI 5996 or 5997 will be entered at the end of the semester or on the listed last date of employment for the experience if it is beyond the semester date. Students completing summer employment will register for CSCI 5996 in the following fall semester, so a summer tuition payment for the experience is not generated. 

Exceptions, appeals, and petitions

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

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

CPT is a separate program from Optional Practical Training (OPT) which can be used after graduation and which does not involve academic credit.