Computer science graduate students may elect to take a practicum option in order to gain practical experience in industry while working on their graduate degrees. Students enroll in the 2 unit (2 credit hour) course CS695 Practicum during each semester in which they work (4 units during the summer). While students may work throughout their graduate program, they may only apply 4 units towards their 36 unit degree requirements. This option is reserved for exceptional international and American students. International students in F and J status must apply for the appropriate off-campus employment authorization in order to do the practicum. Note: Faculty are not required to place students into internships.
- F-1 visa students are not eligible during their first two semesters of graduate studies. The first term for practical training eligibility is the summer after their first academic year assuming they start in the Fall.
- Must officially enroll in the practicum option and must enroll in CS695 each semester they wish to work.
- Work at most 4 semesters including summer for a total of 8 units @ 2 units per semester (students must work at least two semesters). Units are "use-or-lose" and only available during semesters: 1st summer, 3, and 4. Students may not delay their graduate degree to continue working. If a student chooses to earn only 2 credits in the practicum course, that student must take 2 units of directed study with a faculty member. Note that students may only take 4 units of directed study with a faculty member for credit towards graduation.
- Must be enrolled as a full-time student.
- Must have 3.0 GPA every semester while doing practicum course.
- Must have approval of department.
- Jobs must be related to computer science. International students in F and J status must have a job offer in order to obtain the off-campus employment authorization needed to pursue the practicum.
- US citizens may not use their existing job for practicum credit.
- 10-20 hours of work per week, except summer where 40 is ok.
- Must obtain approval of instructor for the company from which you have a job offer.
- If grades from prior semester drop GPA below 3.0, student must inform internship company that they cannot accept the job offer.
Frequently asked questions
Q. Is the practicum option open to all graduate computer science degree students? Yes.
Q. Can entrepreneurship emphasis students take the practicum option? Yes, but they cannot use any of the practicum course credit towards their degree requirements because both of their electives are taken by MBA courses.
Q. Will the computer science department find me a job? No. Students must find a jobs on their own, but this is very easy in the Silicon Valley particularly given the great economy. That said, faculty are usually willing to help as they are able.
Q. How much do internships usually pay for graduate students? As of Fall 2006, students are making between $20 and $40 per hour. Typically, this pays enough for living expenses, but there is no guarantee.
Q. Does enrolling in the practicum option take time away from my Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation? No. Only F-1 students who have received one year or more of full time (over 20 hours per week) Curricular Practical Training employment authorization are ineligible for post-completion Optional Practical Training.
Q. Is there a maximum number of semesters I may work as a graduate student? Yes, you may only work 4 semesters including the summer.
Q. Do I have to enroll in the practicum option or can I simply take the CS695 practicum course course? No. You must officially enter the practicum option.
Q. Will this make it more likely that I get a full-time job after graduation? Yes. Companies value work experience.
Also see the Grad program FAQ.
Information needed to obtain a CPT letter
Name, work start date, work stop date, expected graduation date, company name, hours/week, CS or WS. You can email this to the graduate director to request a letter.