CurriculAR Practical Training (CPT)

Additional CPT information and the CPT form may be found on the International Student Center web site:

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is defined as any required or optional internship that is an integral part of the established curriculum for a program of study. Only internships that are directly related to the course curriculum qualify as CPT and can be either an optional or required part of the program.

Please note that the CPT is not a right but it is a privilege given by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) to international students. The main goal of the international students attending a graduate program in the United States is studying toward a degree, not to work. Some institutions, such as SDSU, allow students to work as interns off campus as part of their curriculum.

Requirements Specific to Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

General Requirements

The student must be in good standing by having an SDSU, overall and program GPA of at least 3.0 and has made progress towards the degree.  Note that progress towards the degree implies that a student has his/her Program of Study (POS) on file and will be enrolled in 799A to complete the thesis (Plan A) or 798 to complete a project (Plan B). The student must also enroll in EE795 (one unit) for CPT regardless of which semester the student is doing CPT.

Summer CPT:

The student must have completed at least 18 units of coursework and enroll in EE795 (one unit) in one of the summer sessions. Students may work up to 40 hours per week during summer. Summer CPT MUST be approved by the student's Thesis/Project Advisor.  The student must submit the Thesis/Project Advisor's CPT Approval form to the ECE Graduate Advisor.

Academic Year CPT:

In an academic year, students who meet the General Requirements mentioned above and the criteria below can work only 20 hours per week. Plan A students can work up to 40 hours per week if they do not take courses in that semester.  The following criteria are the requirements for 20 hours per week CPT:

1.  Have received a satisfactory grade in at least 18 units of coursework in the Program of Study.

2.  A written approval by the Thesis/Project Advisor (the Thesis/Project Advisor's CPT Approval form).

3.  Students who enroll in 799B (thesis extension) are qualified for the CPT.

Please note that using the CPT in each semester (including summer), the student will need to obtain separate offer letters stating the beginning and ending dates of the internships. Please look at the SDSU Academic Calendar to indicate the correct beginning and ending dates of each semester.

Content of the Offer Letter

The offer letter must contain the beginning and ending dates of the internship, the job description, hours per week, and the pay rates (per hour).  The letter must be written on the letterhead of the company and signed by the recruiter or supervisor of the position. For each working period (Summer, Fall or Spring semester) a separate letter must be provided. The beginning and ending dates should fall within the semester the CPT is being done.

How to Receive a "CR" Grade for the EE795 Internship 

IMPORTANT!! Although the internship may not be over, one week prior to the grades being due by the faculty (see the Academic Calendar for deadline dates), the student must submit to the Graduate Advisor (for Spring and Fall semesters):

  1. A typed report (1-2 pages) on how the internship has helped in their degree.
  2. A letter from the supervisor of internship (on company letterhead), stating whether the student has met the requirements of the internship.

Dependent upon the student’s report and supervisory letter, the Graduate Advisor will issue a “CR” grade for EE795. If the student fails to complete these steps prior to grades being submitted, the student will not get credit for the CPT internship.

For Summer CPTs, the report and letter need to be submitted to the ECE Department Chair. The grade for EE795 will be submitted by the ECE Department Chair.


Application and Processing Time Periods

Go to the F-1 Employment in the U.S. and carefully read and follow the instructions for CPT.

IMPORTANT!!  Plan ahead as there are no same day appointments and the process could take as long as 5-7 business days!  The employment may not begin until the training has been authorized. Under no circumstances will the CPT be backdated to include illegal work done before it was authorized. SDSU follows the United States Immigration Law on the CPT. For more information about the law please see the Immigration and Custom Enforcement website