Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Certification

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a work authorization that permits international students with F-1 visa status the opportunity to gain practical experience and training by working off campus in a job in their field of study during the Fall and Spring semesters and summer.

Detailed information about F-1 student CPT eligibility and how to apply can be found via the ISSO website, by phone 212-854-3587 (recorded message), or by email at [email protected].

J.D. F-1 visa holders seeking CPT certification must do the following:

Students must complete the F-1 CPT Request Form and receive authorization for CPT from the ISSO before the start of summer employment, and by not later than June 30. Students cannot begin work before receiving work authorization from the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). 

JD students in residence will need to obtain a letter from their employer, confirming employment as part of Curricular Practical Training, and which states the dates of the employment, the number of hours per week the student will work, and the type of work the student will be doing. 

In the Fall and Spring semesters: The minimum length of employment is 6 weeks for at least 15 hours per week.

In the summer: The minimum length of employment is 3 weeks for at least 30 hours per week.

Sample Employer letter

A. Direct a one-credit paper 

  • Each student must secure a Law School faculty member who will agree to direct the student for a one-credit paper registered as Supervised Essay on Legal Practice (L6883 - Section 3) for the summer and Supervised Essay on Legal Practice (L6883 - Section 4) for the Fall and Spring semesters. The work must be a scholarly paper on a topic approved by a faculty supervisor and related to legal issues encountered in the student’s employment. The paper must consist entirely of original work not submitted to the employer, and should be of length and scope comparable to one-half of that required by a two-credit seminar. That is, the paper should be 3,500 to 4,000 words. Please see additional information below.

B. Provide a letter of agreement outlining the requirements of the paper

  • The letter needs to be addressed to Columbia’s ISSO, and submitted to the Law School’s Office of Registration Services. 

          Sample Faculty Supervisor Letter

Registration Services will notify the student once the forms are ready for pick-up.

All documents must be uploaded through Compass, the ISSO portal, no fewer than 10 business days prior to the start of employment.

  • Supervised Essay on Legal Practice (L6683-Section 3 and Section 4) is subject to the usual maximum of 3 credits in a term and 4 credits in an academic year that may be earned as part of the 19-credit non-class points allowed for J.D. credit (see J.D. Rules 1.1 and 1.5).
  • Supervised Essay on Legal Practice (L6683-Section 3 and Section 4) will be graded only on a Pass/Low Pass/No Credit basis (not by letter grade). 
  • For summer employment the paper must be submitted by October 15 of the Fall term immediately following employment. For Fall and Spring semester employment the paper must be submitted by the end of the semester during which the credit is being earned.
  • No extensions are permitted for Supervised Essay on Legal Practice (L6683-Section 3 and Section 4) undertaken as part of CPT.
  • The faculty supervisor must record a grade by mid-November.  
  • ISSO will check for submission of a grade and will report the student’s visa status to SEVIS. Please note, students will be considered out of status for his/her visa if no grade is recorded by mid-November.
  • In no event will the student be certified for CPT again, or for Optional Practical Training (OPT), before a grade is submitted for the earlier CPT period.

What is CPT?

Curricular Practical Training is a work authorization that permits international students with F-1 visa status the opportunity to gain practical experience and training by working off campus in a job in their field of study during the Fall and Spring semesters and summer.

Can I apply for CPT while remote?

Yes, the ISSO will continue to process CPT applications as normal. For detailed guidance and up-to-date information, please visit the ISSO FAQs page.

Can my academic advisor sign my CPT form?

No, only the Dean of Registration Services can sign your CPT request form.

Do I have to apply for CPT while receiving Guaranteed Summer Funding?

Yes, eligible students can use their summer internship under the guaranteed summer funding program for CPT.

Can my Supervised Essay on Legal Practice paper required for CPT be used to satisfy my Major writing credit requirement?

Yes, as long as you do sufficient additional work to be worthy of the necessary credits as described in J.D. Rules 1.4.2 Legal Writing Requirement.

Can my Supervised Essay on Legal Practice paper required for CPT be used for to satisfy my Minor writing credit requirement?

Yes, as long as you do sufficient additional work to be worthy of the necessary credits as described in J.D. Rules 1.4.6 Legal Writing Requirement.

Do I need to apply for CPT if I am a paid research assistant working on campus?

No, CPT is only used for off-campus employment.

Do I have to apply for CPT when doing an unpaid internship?

Yes, you will need to apply for CPT when doing an off-campus internship, even if your internship is unpaid.

When do I need to register for the one-credit Supervised Essay on Legal Practice required for my CPT?

During the Fall semester following the summer employment.

When should I submit my F-1 CPT request form to ISSO?

You should plan to submit your F-1 CPT request form along with your required documents for processing no fewer than 10 business days prior to the start of your employment.