Benefits of experiential learning – CPT and OPT to gain hands on experience


Acquiring skills and expertise in a particular field is the main idea behind the wish to take up further studies in the USA. F1 visa students who pursue higher studies in the USA, ensure that they get an opportunity to utilize their time and enhance their knowledge through experience

Albert Einstein once quoted ‘The only source of knowledge is experience.’ This quote stands true in our modern society where everyone wants to excel in their fields. F1 visa students also have several opportunities to groom their skills through hands-on experience. These experiences are provided through CPT and OPT. Let us first have a brief discussion about the difference between CPT and OPT.



It stands for Curricular Practical training

It stands for Optional Practical training

Curricular Practical Training needs to be completed before the completion of the degree.

Optional Practical training can be completed before or after completion of the degree. 

CPT is a part of the course or curriculum.

OPT is separately taken up but the training is restricted to the type, of course, opted for.

Only certain employers or courses provide the opportunity to take up CPT.

OPT is not hard to get. Usually, students opt for OPT if an opportunity strikes. 

The duration of CPT authorization depends on the school and program. Some are limited, but other programs and schools allow CPT for the full duration of the program.

OPT has a longer duration of 12 months which can be extended to 24 months in the case of STEM OPT.  In total, the 36 month period of OPT option is available to STEM students. 

No Employment Authorization document has to be obtained before taking the job offer.

An Employment Authorization Document is mandatory to work in the USA.

No application fee is to be paid.

Application charges are to be paid. 

It is either full-time or part-time. 

It is full-time after completion of the course. 


Benefits of taking up CPT or OPT.

  • Provides practical experience

The biggest advantage of opting for CPT or OPT is that you get a real-life experience of how work is done in the outside world. Training opportunities provide interns with hands-on experience. It helps groom certain skills that an employer seeks in his employee. Thus, practical training while the course is in progress adds to the knowledge of the student and surely helps the student move forward. 

  • Increases chances of bagging an early job

The biggest mistake that some students commit is that they wait too long to acquire skills. After the completion of the course, there is limited time to stay in the US and take up a job. It becomes very difficult to search for a suitable job within a short period of time. But, if we look at the bright side, the students who have prior knowledge of the field have a higher chance of getting a job early. Each employer is looking for someone who has previous knowledge and can be put to good use. Thus, it is better to gain training beforehand.

  • Builds connections

CPT and OPT opportunities help build a repertoire in the market. It helps build connections with superiors who have been working for years. A good professional relationship with people helps in completing projects and attaining the target and thus builds the stature of the company.

  • Good source of income

A student with prior skills will take less time to learn all the nitty-gritties involved in working in a professional environment. Less expenditure in teaching an intern means more income for the employee.  CPT and OPT training experiences increase the chances of getting a good salaried job. 


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