Optional Practical Training

What is Optional Practical Training?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is 12 months of employment authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. Authorization for OPT is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).


  • You must have been enrolled for at least one full academic year.
  • You must have maintained your F-1 status.
  • You must intend to work in a position directly related to your major field of study.
  • You must not have previous OPT approved for the same degree level.
  • If you used 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training, then you are not eligible for OPT.

Types of OPT


  • Pre-Completion OPT may be taken during annual vacation as part (20 hrs/week or less) or full-time (more than 20 hrs/week).
  • Pre-Completion OPT may only be taken as part-time while school is in session.
  • Pre-Completion OPT may be taken as part-time or full-time, if you have completed course requirements and are working on your dissertation or DMin project.

Note: Pre-Completion OPT will be deducted from the 12 months of Post-Completion OPT.


  • Post-Completion OPT must begin after the completion date of your program (see #5 on your I-20) and end within 14 months of the completion date.

More Information

Advisor Recommendation for CPT [pdf]

Curricular Practical Training [pdf]

Optional Practical Training [pdf]