Skip to content

Optional Practical Training


Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides F-1 students with an opportunity for hands-on work experience related to the academic field of study. There are 3 types of OPT.

You are eligible to apply if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have maintained F-1 status.
  • You have been enrolled in a full course of study for one academic year (three quarters) or will complete one academic year by the date the OPT approval begins.
  • You have not been authorized for a total of 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
  • You have not previously completed 12 months of OPT at the same degree level.

Post-Completion OPT

OPT authorization that begins after completion of your academic program is called post-completion OPT. This is the most common type of OPT.

  • You must apply for OPT based on your last registered quarter. If you missed the graduation application deadline or if you will pay the Graduate Registration Waiver Fee, your degree will be awarded in a quarter in which you are not registered. In these situations, the OPT application must be submitted in the prior (registered) quarter. Learn more about the Graduate Registration Waiver Fee if this applies to you.
  • Graduate students: watch the following video if you are considering applying for post-completion OPT to overlap with completion of the thesis/dissertation (prior to graduation).

Applying for OPT with Thesis and Dissertation Remaining

Pre-Completion OPT

OPT that begins and ends while you are still enrolled in your course of study, before your program end date, is called “pre-completion” OPT. Pre-completion OPT is deducted from the 12 months of OPT eligibility, and most students prefer to save OPT for after program completion. You may start the OPT application process up to 90 days before your requested employment start date.

STEM OPT Extension

Students in their 12-month OPT authorization period, with a qualifying STEM degree and working for an E-Verify registered employer, may apply for an extension of their OPT.