Some international students are required to enroll for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) in order to do an internship or other practical experience in the United States while they are Carleton students. CPT or OPT at Carleton requires that you enroll in approved coursework related to the work that you are doing. This can be done in the Computer Science Department in the following ways:

Option 1: Independent study for one credit (CS 298). Here is how it is structured:

  • Step 1: Before we permit you to enroll for the independent study, you will choose an academic reading (research paper, book chapter, etc.) on some topic related to your practical experience. You will then submit a writeup (500 words or more) explaining why you chose this reading, and how it relates to the practical experience that you have done or will be doing. This reading should be chosen to enhance your knowledge in the subject area under consideration. If the reading is to be done before your practical experience, it might be chosen to help you gain knowledge in the work you are about to do. If the reading is to be done after your practical experience, it might be chosen to further deepen your knowledge in the area you did your work. Alternatively, it might be to broaden your knowledge in an area related to the work that you did. We must approve the reading topic and your 500 word writeup before we will approve your application to sign up for CS 298, and before we will sign your CPT form.
  • Step 2: Get your independent study form signed by us and submitted to the registrar.
  • Step 3: You will then complete your reading, and write an essay (1500 words or more). If your reading is done before your practical experience, this essay should explain what you learned from the reading, and analyze how (to the best of your knowledge) the reading will apply to the work that you will do. If your reading is done after your practical experience, the essay should explain what you learned from the reading, and analyze how the work that you did could be enhanced or extended with the knowledge that you have gained.

Option 2: Comps. If you will be fulfilling your CPT/OPT during fall or winter term of your senior year, and if your comps work is related to your practical experience in some way, your comps can count for that experience.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I do CS 298 for more than 1 credit? Doing it for 3 credits, in particular, would enable me to have a much better schedule for the term

A: No. CS 298 can only be done for 1 credit.

Q: My internship requires that I learn some content on my own before the internship. Can I use that for the CPT/OPT?

A: If the learning that you will do can fit into the CS 298 structure described above, then yes. You will still need to have your reading approved, and you will submit the essay as described. If the work is structured differently, then it may not be used for CPT/OPT purposes, though it may nonetheless be a valuable experience for you. We will not approve a customized independent study to reflect other forms of work that employers ask you to do.

Q: I already have some other independent study with a CS department faculty member, that I’ve signed up for. Can I use that for my CPT/OPT?

A: Maybe. When you fill out the CPT/OPT application form, explain what the independent study is, and how it relates to your practical experience. Note that independent studies in the Computer Science Department are rare, faculty are not required to offer them, and they are not constructed for OPT/CPT purposes.


How to Enroll

If you need to fulfill a CPT/OPT in the Computer Science Department, submit this form below. We’ll then contact you to follow up.

CPT/OPT Enrollment Form

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