Use the Study in the States glossary to define key terms throughout the F and M student process in the United States. If you are a current or prospective student, select “students” to see terms that specifically relate to you—from visas, to forms, benefits, and more. School officials should select “schools” to find more information on certification, responsibilities, and how to help their F and M students. You can also sort terms by selecting the letter of the alphabet a term begins with.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Training that an F-1 student participates in during a program of study; including alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum offered by a sponsoring employer through cooperative agreement with a school.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Employment authorization that must relate to a student’s major or course of study. To participate, students must receive approval from their designated school official and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. OPT may occur before or after the program end date, but participants may only work for 20 hours per week while school is in session.

OPT is not an integral part of the established curriculum. Optional practical training (OPT) does not fulfill requirements of an F-1 student's program of study and successful program completion is not contingent on participation in OPT. OPT may include the following:

  • Pre-completion OPT.
  • Post-completion OPT.
  • 24‑month extension of post-completion OPT.
  • H-1B Cap‑Gap.