OPT Extension Eligible STEM Designated Programs

What is a STEM Designated Degree Program?

STEM-designated degree programs are academic programs that fall under one or more of the approved categories from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for their focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

How OPT-STEM Extension Works

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to stay and work in the US for 1 year after graduation

OPT is a 1-year work authorization available to F-1 international students who have been full-time students for at least two consecutive semesters and plan to seek employment in the United States in their fields of study. OPT is usually completed after graduation and is not a part of the admissions process.

OPT-STEM Extension allows you to extend your OPT for an additional 2 years

F-1 international students who completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in STEM-designated programs and are currently working with post-completion OPT may apply for the STEM extension of 2 years of additional employment, for a total of 3 years.

RIT has among the most international students per capita on CPT and OPT/STEM authorizations in the United States; currently over 500 students.


international students on F-1 and J-1 visas are currently completing 1-3 additional years of post-graduation training at companies in the U.S.


students gained practical employment experience in the past year


Last year, co-op students earned more than $58 million through employment.


co-op employers across the U.S. and overseas.


total jobs posted through RIT Career Services last year


total interviews held on campus last year

Why STEM at RIT?

A closeup a researcher's hands working with equipment on a lab bench.

STEM is in Our DNA

RIT is the third largest producer of undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) degrees among all private universities in the nation.

RIT offers unmatched career preparation and work opportunities

including a world-renowned cooperative education program that lets you gain valuable experience from and exposure to potential employers and earn money while not paying tuition.

RIT is a “high research activity institution”

Most of that research being conducted in the STEM fields. As a result, students benefit from career-enhancing research opportunities. The University offers more than 50 research centers and laboratories dedicated to these research pursuits.

RIT has been ranked among the top U.S. schools for international students to engage in post-graduation employment in both STEM and non-STEM fields.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program named RIT one of the top 100 schools in two lists related to pre- and post-graduation optional practical training.

The OPT Process and Support

  1. Seek employment offers before you graduate from. There are several opportunities to meet with prospective employers through our Office of Career Services and Cooperative EducationYou do not need a job offer to apply for OPT.
  2. Up to three months before graduation, request an OPT recommendation from RIT’s International Student Services office for this employment benefit with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).
  3. Once OPT is approved and you have a job offer, work with RIT’s International Student Services office to get a Social Security number if you do not already have one.



Definitions of Key Terms

  • STEM
    science, technology, engineering, and math
  • OPT
    Optional Practical Training is a 12-month work authorization available to F-1 international students who have been full-time students for at least two consecutive semesters and plan to seek employment in the United States in their fields of study. OPT is usually completed after graduation. Learn more about OPT
  • STEM Extension
  • F-1 students on post-completion OPT who have completed a STEM-designated degree can apply for a 24-month extension of OPT work permission. This means up to 36 months of work experience in the US after graduation. Learn more about STEM OPT Extension
  • CPT
    Curricular Practical Training is off campus work (whether it is paid or unpaid), such as internship or co-op, for F-1 international students to get practical experience as part of their degree. Learn more about CPT
  • H-1B
    The U.S. H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, etc.
  • Co-op
    Short for cooperative education. It is a model in American education where students work for a semester instead of taking classes. During that time, students are paid by the company or organization they are working for and do not pay tuition. Learn more about co-op

The information contained on this page is for general information purposes only. Due to frequent government updates, RIT may make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on this page at any time without prior notice. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ultimately provides the decision on OPT applications.