Difference Between OPT and CPT
difference between opt and opt

Difference Between OPT and CPT

International students on F-1 visa have two options to work in the US. They are:

  • Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

However, there are some differences between OPT and CPT , which a student on F1 visa must know before getting started.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Vs Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

       Optional Practical Training (OPT)

      Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

OPT is a temporary authorization offered to students on F-1 visa to work on their related field for a period of total 12 months.


CPT is a temporary work authorization provided to the students on F-1 visa, which is directly related to their majors for period of total 12 months.  


OPT Eligibility Requirement : The students must have been pursuing their course full-time for at least one full academic year.

CPT Eligibility Requirement : If the students complete their full-time CPT for a period of 12 months then they would be no longer eligible for OPT. Besides, the students must have been enrolled full time for at least one academic year.


OPT in order to receive OPT authorization, students do not require any employment or job offer.

CPT: While applying for CPT, students require a job or employment offer.

OPT program  has two variants— Pre-completion OPT and Post-completion OPT. Students can pursue OPT while there still on their academics with Pre-completion OPT. And, with Post-completion OPT students can start their OPT after their graduation.

CPT is for total 12 months and it can be either full-time or part time.

Students require OPT to work for a total period of 12 months (Pre or Post Completion OPT). Yet, students have an option to extend their OPT for another 17 months with STEM OPT extension; this is only applicable to certain majors.

Having CPT to work, students can be on job for a total period of 12 months. But, students will not have option to work on OPT once they complete their 12 month CPT.

With OPT, students’ employment experience must be related to their majors or field of study and it doesn’t have to be a part of their academic curriculum.


With CPT, students’ employment experience must be directly related to their major or field of study. Plus, it must be a part of students’ curriculum; this implies, students’ employment experience must offer credits in their curriculum. 

OPT students can work part-time when University/ college is in term; during vacation students can work full-time.

CPT students can work part-time when University/College is in term; during off-session, students can work full-time.

Students on OPT can work with any employer across the US as long as their OPT jobs are related to their field of study. 

Students on CPT can work only with employers those are on Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and I-20 list.

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