Curriculum Practical Training (CPT)


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. According to the Immigration and Naturalization Act, the terms and conditions of the CPT are determined by the degree-granting institutions.

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. Out-of-state internship locations are allowed during summer.

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 provided they have enrolled in 799B for the first time.

4.  The location of the internship must be within driving distance from SDSU during an academic year.

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 (usually the end of the semester), the student must submit a typed report regarding the internship and a letter from the supervisor of internship on company letterhead to the ECE Graduate Advisor in order to receive a “CR” grade for EE795. The ECE Graduate Advisor will issue a "CR" dependent upon the student's report and letter from the supervisor. For Summer CPTs, the letter and report need to be submitted to the ECE Department Chair, Dr. Satish Sharma at [email protected]If the student fails to complete these steps prior to grades being submitted, the student will not get credit for the CPT internship.

1. The student needs to type up a report (1-2 pages) stating how the internship has helped in their degree.

2. The student needs to get a letter from their supervisor, on company letterhead, stating they have met the requirements of their internship.

Application and Processing Time Periods

There is no specific application period for the CPT. Students who satisfy the aforementioned requirements must allow enough time after obtaining the job offer for administrative processes as follows:

1. Give the offer letter and the completed CPT form to the ECE Graduate Advisor. The ECE Graduate Advisor will review the letters and make a decision on whether the student satisfies the requirements or not. If the student is eligible for the CPT, the ECE Graduate Advisor will sign the CPT form.

2. Once the CPT form has been signed, you can then enroll in EE795 (adding after the add/drop deadline will require submitting a Late Schedule Adjustment petition to late add EE795 late and could take an additional 7-10 business days).

3. Contact the International Student Center (ISC) for an appointment (619-594-1982). Submit the signed CPT form to ISC, along with a valid passport, I-94 Form, SEVIS I-20, complete address of the company and the job offer letter to ISC for final approval (2-3 business days).

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

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