Can international students partcipate in 6A?

    Yes. Federal regulations permit the employment of international students on F-1 visas and exchange visitor student J-1 visas, with certain limits. These students may work off-campus after obtaining the proper work authorization from MIT’s International Students Office (ISO).

    What is the proper work authorization students need to obtain?

    Students must apply for either Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) from MIT’s International Students Office (ISO).

    What is the difference between CPT and OPT?

    1. Curricular Practical Training (CPT): CPT is off-campus employment authorization that is an integral part of an established curriculum and is directly related to the student’s major field of study. Students must be enrolled in an internship or practicum course to be eligible for CPT authorization (Independent Study does not qualify for CPT). CPT off-campus work authorization is approved by the ISO and is specific to the experience, employer, and location. Examples include a co-op program, internship, or research that is a required part of a thesis or dissertation. Under Curricular Practical Training, all activities pursued must be “directly related to the student’s major area of study” and an integral part of the student’s established curriculum [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(i)], in addition to other criteria.


    2. Optional Practical Training (OPT): OPT is a benefit authorized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that extends the F-1 student status to allow you to work in the U.S.A. in order to gain practical training in your major field of study.

      • An employment offer is not required to apply for OPT.
      • OPT must be directly related to the student’s major field of study.

    When should students apply for CPT/OPT?

    Once the student has been accepted into the 6A program, the EECS Department will notify MIT’s International Students Office (ISO). It becomes the responsibility of the student to make an appointment with the ISO and to apply 2-4 months before their internship start date for CPT or OPT.

    Note: This process must be repeated for each subsequent employment period. Students who start working without authorization lose their legal status in the United States.