CIP Code OPT Extension

What is CIP Code ? Its Importance for 17 month OPT Extension. Find it on I20

In CPT| OPT| On-Campus by Kumar8 Comments

Some of you may have heard about CIP codes for your degree, but may not have paid much attention to it or bothered to worry about its importance.  Unfortunately, one of my very good friends had a bitter experience with his OPT extension, which was tied to CIP Code. Let me shed some light on CIP Code and its importance, including where to find it on I20.

What is CIP Code ?

CIP is an acronym for “Classification of Instructional Programs”.  CIP Codes are given by National Center for Education Statistics ( NCES).  These CIP Codes are given by NCES to track, assess and report fields of study and program completions activity.  Currently, schools use CIP-2000 codes. You can check CIP codes and details by field of study at NCES CIP Website

Where to find CIP Code on I-20 ?
CIP Codes are not explicitly listed on your I-20, when you are offered admission. It only comes into picture when you start to utilize your OPT period. When you apply for OPT,  the DSO ( international student adviser/ Designated school official) will issue you a new I20.  It will be of 3 pages and you can find the CIP Code on the third page top next to ‘primary major’  Check the below screen shot.I20 Sample CIP Code for OPT Extension

CIP Code importance for 17 month OPT Extension

One of my very good friends, who received a Masters degree last year, is currently working on OPT. Originally, his degree was NOT listed under STEM Designated degree for 17 month OPT extension. As you know, recently, DHS added about 94 degrees to STEM Designated degree programs… looking at the newly added list of degree programs, especially the description of the degree program related to his field, he was excited that he took most of the courses that are required for the degree and he should be qualified for 17 month OPT extension.  He approached the DSO and showed the newly added degree programs, his transcript and degree program description, guess what ?  DSO said that the Masters degree he received does not fall under STEM Designated degree as the CIP Code does not match. My friend went to the Graduate school and talked to them, they said the same news. He approached the department head and explained that he has taken most of the courses required for the program and asked why the degree is not classified under that CIP Code. The department chair agreed to the fact that he has taken most of the courses, but he said that unfortunately, graduate school has classified it under different CIP code and changes to it has to come through them. Also, he said that it is a very lengthy process as a committee has to approve the CIP code change. He mentioned that school may not really go for a CIP code change unless needed. The reality of fact is that, CIP codes are quoted by Universities when they apply for program accreditation and structuring program fees, etc.  In any case, it is not easy to change CIP Codes, unless the school thinks, it needs a change.

Lesson to Learn :
Based on above experience, we can conclude that CIP codes are critical for deciding the STEM Designated degree classification and 17 month OPT Extension for international students. Before you join any degree program at any school, you need to check with the graduate school and your department the CIP Code tied to your degree program. You need to cross check with the full list of STEM Designated degrees and make sure your degree is listed in there to qualify for the 17 month OPT extension. If you do not check CIP Code and assume certain things, you can run into issues at the end of your OPT to file extension…

Do you have any similar OPT extension experience to share ?


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Comments ( 8 )

  1. Yash

    I will be pursuing my Masters in Engineering and Project Management (comes under Civil Engineering Department) at Berkeley. It is a diverse branch which leads to many fields like supply chain management, construction management, data science etc. It falls under a certain stem category – Civil Engineering General to be specific. Half of the courses which I will be taking would be related to Machine Learning and Data Analytics (Berkeley has a provision for the same). When applying for OPT or OPT extension, is it necessary for my job to be in Civil Engineering? Can I work at companies where my work will be more related to Data Science rather than core Construction management, say Google, Facebook? Will there be any issues when applying for OPT/OPT extension?

    Thanks!

  2. Kay Mare

    This similar thing happened to me as well. The rules pertaining to OPT extension seem to be very strict.
    The course code listed on my I20 is xx.xx04 and in order to be eligible for an extension the code needed to be xx.xx05 even though the programs are the same and is listed under the same name. If getting a degree in the the allied health field I recommend paying close attention to which code the school lists for your program. Adding or dropping 1 or 2 courses will qualify your program under a different CIP code and seems to make all the difference with that as well.

  3. Naga Srinivas Guntupalli

    Hello ,

    I am pursuing my MBA in the field of Information Technology , its CIP Code is 11. 0103. I asked my DSO simply without any information of STEM . Asked whether MBA in Information Technology fall under STEM or not. DSO told that , my degree matter a lot not the majors. But , I shared this information and news my friend , he has given USICS link :https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/stem-list.pdf where complete information is complete STEM designated degree program list , which was effective May 10, 2016. So , my friend is telling telling to take the list and I-20 near my DSO and ask with the proof.

  4. Rahul Shah

    I graduated in Ms Finance course May 2016 and I am currently working on my OPT Status. My university got STEM status for the Ms Finance course today. am I eligible for the STEM extension?

    Thanks

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Rahul,
      You should check with your graduate school, if the CIP code for the degree you got falls into that and if applies for older degrees. You should also check with your DSO, they are the best ones to clarify this.

  5. kiran

    Does information systems and technology come under stem course? i would like to join in one of the for-profit university. Will i get opt after completing my masters program.

  6. Tarun

    Quite informative an eye-opening post.

    Does Computer Science and Software Engineering (AKA Computer Software Engineering) fall under STEM category? The STEM list contains both degrees (M.S) along with their CIP code
    but even though I would like to have your opinion on this as I am going to apply for either CS or SE.
    Thank you so much for the lesson. I will make sure that I ask the Grad school the CIP code for my intended major and will cross check with the STEM list.
    Thanks for the STEM list though.
    I appreciate all your suggestions.
    Best Regards,
    Tarun

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Tarun,
      The name ” Computer Software Engineering” falls under CIP Code 14.0903 . You can check the full list in above article links. Having said that, it is always dependent on how the school has classified it and what CIP Code NCES has given them… So, you need to check with Grad school…

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