Columbia College | Columbia Engineering

Home / What is OPT (Optional Practical Training)? / What is OPT (Optional Practical Training)?

What is OPT (Optional Practical Training)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit of F-1 student status that allows students to gain experience in their field of study by applying for off-campus work authorization. Students in F-1 status are eligible for 12 months of OPT per educational degree level. OPT may be granted and used before graduation (pre-completion OPT ) for part-time work during the school year or full time work during vacation periods. Remaining OPT may be granted to complete after graduation (post-completion OPT). Certain STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) may be approved for an additional 17 months of OPT. You must apply for OPT to be granted work authorization for paid work off-campus. If the internship is unpaid (no compensation of any kind), you do not need to apply for OPT. Please make sure to attend a session by ISSO on OPT and/or click through the above information before stopping by the office with questions.


International at Columbia


510 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: 001 (212) 854-0720

Fax: 001 (212) 854-9801

Office Hours
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.