Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) provide opportunities for qualified F-1 visa status students to gain off-campus employment. Students interested in CPT or OPT must first attend a workshop in the Office of International Services (OIS).

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT is off-campus employment in the form of an internship, co-op, or practicum. CPT is available to students who will continue to work towards their degree and are in legal F-1 student status for at least nine months before applying for CPT, who are admitted to a graduate program in full standing, and who are eligible to register (no holds). MSCS allows CPT during the SUMMER term only.

Applying for CPT

  • Attend an OPT/CPT workshop in the Office of International Services.

  • Obtain an internship/employment related to your curriculum and HAVE AN OFFER LETTER IN HAND to begin the process. The offer letter must contain these details:

    Length of internship.

    The start and end dates of the internship must fall after the end of the Spring term and before the start of the Fall term.

    Work hours.

    Full time employment is allowed during the summer. Work hours include the number of hours you work in an assistantship or on-campus job, if any.

  • Make an appointment with the MSCS Assistant Director of Graduate Studies in 339 SEO building.

  • Bring a copy of your offer letter to your appointment.

  • Once your internship request is approved by MSCS, you will contact OIS to begin the appropriate CPT paperwork for approval. This process may take up to 20 days.

  • Once OIS approves your application, you will register for an approved Thesis Research course for zero or more credit hours. Note: zero credit hours registration carries a tuition and fee cost that is NOT covered by a Tuition and Service Fee Waiver. A minimum of 3 credit hours of enrollment is required for assistantship TFWs; 6 credit hours of enrollment is required for Board of Trustees TFWs.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

OPT is temporary employment that is directly related to a student's field of study. Students holding F-1 visas are eligible for a maximum of twelve months of OPT authorization for each level of study (BS, MS, PhD). Most students apply for OPT as they approach the end of their current degree program. Participating in OPT "after" completion of studies offers the opportunity to apply skills to "real world" situations.

OPT work cannot begin until the student has obtained an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Students should allow at least 120 days for the EAD to be processed. For this reason, students need to attend an OPT workshop and submit the necessary paperwork well in advance of their preferred OPT start date.

Applying for OPT

  • Attend an OPT/CPT workshop in the Office of International Services
  • Complete the appropriate forms in the OPT workshop packet and submit to OIS.
  • Return to OIS to retrieve your documents. This will take about 1-2 weeks from your submission date.
  • Submit your application along with payment by mail to a U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services Center or file electronically (http://www.uscis.gov/i-765).
Web Privacy Notice HTML 5 CSS FAE
UIC LAS MSCS > graduate studies > current students > employment > info for international students