Starting this summer, undergraduates will be able to receive academic credit for internships directly related to their concentrations under an initiative that will also allow international students to pursue domestic summer work opportunities through the federal Curricular Practical Training (CPT) program. 

The changes were prompted by lengthy Optional Practical Training (OPT) work-authorization processing delays last spring that affected dozens of international students. Many lost their work opportunities for the summer after paying for housing and transportation to various internship locations. 

To work legally in the United States while on a student visa, international students require a special permit that is processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Unlike in OPT employment, a requirement for CPT employment is that the internship form an integral part of one’s academic curriculum. CPT processing takes about 10 business days, while OPT processing can require four weeks to five months, according to the USCIS. 

The new policy affects not only international students but domestic students who wish to accept internships that require academic credit. 

It will be up to individual academic departments to decide whether to participate in the program, Dean of the College Jill Dolan said. Approved internships will carry academic credit but not course credit, she said, “and so will not advance students in their course count or progress toward their degree.”