International Students

International students may be eligible to work off-campus, or through an internship, while enrolled in a degree program. Once graduated, eligible international students may also work off-campus or in an internship. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) are two federal programs that permit this employment.

On-Campus Employment

Students holding an F-1 or J-1 Visa may be eligible for on-campus employment.
Visit the International Students & Scholars Office for information.

F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

CPT provides authorization for employment that is an integral part of the established curriculum of your chemical engineering degree program. Through it students may gain work experience on chemical engineering in relevant intern or fieldwork experience as part of their program of study as determined by the instructor.

The Chemical Engineering curriculum for both undergraduate and graduate students includes a fieldwork course that satisfies the requirements of the CPT program:

  • CHEN E3999 - Undergraduate Fieldwork. 1 point (Up to 3 points can be credited towards the BS degree)
  • CHEN E4999 - Graduate Fieldwork. 1 point (Up to 3 points can be credited towards the MS degree; students who also take CHEN E4999 can only use a maximum of 3 points of CHEN E9400 in fulfillment of the MS degree)

Both courses provide work experience on chemical engineering in relevant intern or fieldwork experience as part of their program of study as determined by the instructor.  Both courses require:

  1. Written application made prior to registration, outlining proposed internship/study program;
  2. At the end of the course, a written report describing the experience and how it relates to the chemical engineering core curriculum.

Employer feedback on student performance and the quality of the report are the basis of the grade. This course may not be taken for pass/fail or audited. May not be used as a technical or non-­technical elective.

Fieldwork Course Guidelines

  • Undergraduate CPT

Course: E3999
Summer Semester (May not count toward Technical Elective Credit)
Part Time (Less Than 20 Hours a Week) 1.0 Credit
Full Time (More Than 20 Hours a Week) 1.0 to 2 Credits

  • Master of Science CPT

Course: E4999 (3 credit maxiumum allowed for the MS Program)
Summer Semester (Counts toward degree)
Part Time (Less Than 20 Hours a Week) 1 to 3 Credits (3 Credits is recommended)
Full Time (More Than 20 Hours a Week) 1 to 3 Credits (3 Credits is recommended)

Spring/Fall Semester (Counts toward degree)
Part Time (Less Than 20 Hours a Week) 1 to 3 Credits (3 Credits is recommended)
Full Time (More Than 20 Hours a Week) Not Allowed

 

Other Student Responsibilities

The following items are a requirement of the CPT and are the responsibility of the student to obtain/execute:

  1. be on official company letterhead
  2. have a specific start date and a specific end date
  3. include the location where your work will be performed
  4. include the number of hours per week you will work
  5. include a description of your position duties
  6. be signed and dated by your employer

    You may review our example letter, but do not submit this.
  • CPT Request Form
    Download the form, complete it, and submit it to the Chemical Engineering department.

CPT Protocol

  1. Email Irina Katz, Development Officer, with the Employer Offer Letter and the completed CPT Form.
  2. Pick up the signed CPT Form from the Department.
  3. Submit the CPT form and any other documentation to International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO).
  4. Register for the appropriate class (CHEN E3999 for Undergraduates/CHEN E4999 for MS students)
  5. Receive the syllabus from the assigned instructor.

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 students to get practical training to complement their studies while enrolled in a degree program; graduates may also remain in the U.S. to apply their skills and knowledge and gain practical experience and training. This post-graduate work is typically for one year, but in some cases may be extended by an additional 17 months.

For detailed information about F-1 OPT, please visit the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO). This site explains what OPT is, who is eligible, how to apply and the end-to-end process:

English Language Programs

Finding a job in the U.S. is often a daunting task for anyone. If you're an international student and English is a second language, finding employment has additional hurdles. Language barriers can contribute to this difficulty, even if you have the skills employers are seeking.

Therefore, it is of great importance for international students who are non-native speakers to develop solid English proficiency. Here are some resources you may find helpful:

Columbia University Resources

External Resources

  • Toastmasters International:
    This nonprofit educational organization operates clubs worldwide, to help everyone improve communication, public speaking, and leadership skills.