CPT & OPT Enrollment Guidelines

Scientist in lab

International students who are undergraduates in the College of Chemistry are eligible to work off campus in positions related to their field of study, either before or after graduation. The information provided below supplements what is available on the Berkeley International Office web site

CPT (Curricular Practical Training) Form Guidelines and Process

Curricular Practical Training is a type of off-campus work permission for F-1 international students who are currently pursuing study programs in the United States and want to gain work experience in their fields of study. CPT is not available after a student completes a degree program.

To be approved, the CPT must either 1) satisfy a degree requirement; or 2) earn credit for employment. Since CoC majors do not require work experience, CoC students will always need to earn credit for CPT. We therefore grant 1-4 units of Chem or Chem Eng 197. 

CPT OPT form directions

To facilitate efficient review and approval of the CPT form by your CoC adviser, students should complete Parts 1 and 2 of the Academic Adviser’s Recommendation section. These require the student to describe their academic-related training plan and learning objectives. Please use these guidelines:

Question 1 (“Describe the academic objectives and requirements of the CPT course enrollment or the degree requirement. What academic deliverable or academic work is required to satisfactorily complete the course or degree requirement?”). Use this template:

[Your first & last name] will complete a written reflection which discusses the application of chemistry / chemical engineering [choose one] concepts in a practical, real-world setting. The paper’s length is determined by the number of preferred units (see below). Due the last day of the semester.

1 unit -- 1-3 pp (250-750 words)
2 units -- 2-4 pp (500-1000 words)
3 units -- 3-5 pp (750-1250 words)

Question 2 (“Explain how this CPT experience directly relates to the student’s current major area of study.”): Write a brief paragraph (50-100 words) describing how your internship relates to your major.

Submission Procedures & Deadline

Please submit your CPT form and offer letter to Maritsi Perez: maritsip@berkeley.edu, CoC Intake Adviser, for approval at least 3-5 business days BEFORE you plan to submit it to BIO (BIO requires CPT applications to be received at least 2 weeks before your internship/employment start date).

Please also submit the Undergraduate Field Study Form (which must include the signature of your CPT supervisor). Maritsi will issue a class number for enrollment in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering 197.

Please note the following:

  1. Chem and Chem Eng 197 units must be paid for

  2. Units are for P/NP only

At the end of the semester please submit your reflection, signed by your supervisor, to John Arnold (Chem/Chem Bio) or Bryan McCloskey (Chem E) for review. Once submitted, please let Maritsi: maritsip@berkeley.edu know so she can assign a grade of “P.”

OPT (Optional Practical Training) Form Guidelines and Process

Optional Practical Training is a 12-month work authorization available to F-1 international students who have been full-time students for at least two consecutive semesters and plan to seek employment in the U.S. in their field of study after graduation. Students normally apply for OPT in their last semester.

There is also a 24-month STEM OPT Extension available for Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Chemical Engineering majors. 

The Berkeley International Office (BIO) requires OPT applicants to review their OPT tutorial (PDF) for a complete overview of the complex and time-sensitive application process. We strongly recommend that you review all OPT information on the BIO web site before submitting the F-1 OPT 1-20 Request eform (access requires your CalNet ID). A link to the form is available in the “How to Apply” section of the OPT web page.