BGS Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

BGS Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

BGS will permit in especially well-justified circumstances one full-time career-related internship, normally conducted over the summer months.  Approvals from the thesis advisor(s), graduate group chair, thesis committee chair, and BGS Registrar are required.  The Career Internship Approval Form should be submitted for approval at least 30 days prior to the start of the internship. For students attending on a visa, they must also be approved through ISSS for CPT.

Graduate students in Biomedical Graduate Studies who meet the USCIS eligibility criteria may apply for academic credit for the purposes of F-1 curricular practical training (CPT). In order to be eligible for CPT, you must have already completed one academic year (September to May) of course work, full-time at Penn, but have not completed all of your degree requirements. (Note: A student beginning their program in January would be able to register for CPT after a second term of full-time study.) 

If you have any questions regarding the CPT immigration status requirements, please email your ISSS advisor (listed on the iPenn page when you log in). Questions on the academic side for BGS can be directed to the BGS Registrar


Procedure/steps (to be completed in order):

  1. Discuss with your thesis committee and/or advisor(s) the potential of performing an internship and how it relates to your dissertation and career goals.
  2. Obtain an offer letter from an employer that will verify the work you will do, the number of hours you will be working, the start and end date of the employment, and the internship location (onsite physical address or stating remote) must also be listed in the letter. The start date must start on or after the term begins, and the end date must end prior to the start of the next term. (Example: Summer internships must start after the last day of the Spring term and must end before the first day of the Fall term.)
  3. Identify a faculty member who will serve as your CPT Supervisor. This may be your dissertation supervisor or another supervisor whose area of work and specialization overlap with your proposed internship work.
  4. Send the Career Internship Approval Form for BGS Students and the employer’s offer letter to your CPT supervisor.
  5. If your CPT supervisor is different from your thesis advisor, upon receipt of your approved and signed documents by your supervisor, please send the document to your thesis advisor to ask for help in getting the remaining signatures. They will assist with this step or let you know how you can easily obtain it.
  6. Programs/departments should submit the final signed document to the BGS Registrar once signatures have been obtained. If your program returns the approval documents to you directly, please submit the approval to the BGS Registrar for school processing. Please allow 5-7 business days for the review of all documents. If anything further is needed you will be informed.  Upon final approval you will be registered for course credit during the term of the CPT. 
  7. Once step #6 is complete, you will receive an email to verify BGS approval and can begin requesting CPT online through International Student and Scholar Services using the online F-1 Curricular Practical Training Form. Do NOT complete this step until you receive the final approval. Processing time by ISSS is typically up to 5 business days. 


Students cannot begin any work until they have received the CPT authorization from ISSS.


Additional Information

Processing delays: 

The CPT process can take up to two weeks for processing during the busiest times. Multiple offices and staff are reviewing your CPT at different stages. If all documents are in order sometimes it can take as little as five business days for processing. Please plan accordingly and give yourself at least a 30 day window prior to your start date to get all documents in and reviewed/approved on time.

Evaluation and grading: 

Your CPT Supervisor will need to evaluate your work done either based on periodic reports submitted by you while undergoing the CPT, or based on such reports immediately after your return from the training. Note that your supervisor may require some additional work beyond what was done during training, but the evaluation must be substantially based upon the training experience. All CPT course registrations will be issued either an “S” grade or a “U” grade. No letter grades (impacting GPA) will be issued.

Tuition and Fees:
Students will be registered for BIOM 8980; however, no tuition and fees will be charged for this registration.

Requirement to Complete: 

All academic requirements for CPT must be satisfactorily completed within the term for which the student has registered for CPT. Failure to complete the CPT academic requirements would render your employment “unauthorized” and be a violation of your immigration status. For any student who gets a “U” grade, such sanctions may include forfeiture of the post-graduation OPT allotment and the possibility of working in the United States on any other visa.