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Work Eligibility


Students on an F-1 or J-1 visa are allowed to be paid for work on-campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year when classes are in session, and unlimited hours during any recess periods, such as winter break or summer vacation.

On-campus employment is work done for and paid by Columbia University. This also includes work for a commercial firm on the campus if it provides direct services to all Columbia students.


Curricular Practical Training is authorization for off-campus employment that is an integral part of the established curriculum of your degree program. The M.S. in Sustainability Management program does not require the completion of an internship as part of the program’s curriculum, but approved students are eligible to undertake a Curricular Practical Training (CPT) internship.



M.S. in Sustainability Management graduates who hold an F-1 student visa may gain experience in their field of study by applying for off-campus work authorization in United States for a period of up to three years, as part of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.

M.S. in Sustainability Management graduates are able to request “STEM OPT extension,” or Optional Practical Training extension for an additional 24 months. Please contact the Columbia International Student and Scholars Office for more information about eligibility requirements and how to apply.

For questions about individual cases, please contact:

International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO)


We Hear From Our Students


Debasmita Sarkar – India

“Never underestimate the importance of talking to fellow students, professors and alumni about their views and experiences in the world of sustainability as the information that you gain from them supplements the academic part of the program and leads to a more holistic learning experience.”


Brian Hong – Canada

“Even as an international student from a very multi-cultural city, I am amazed at the diversity and opportunities that Columbia University offers. Students can attend events with world leaders in politics, business and non-profits on an almost weekly basis. As an Ivy-League University in New York City, Columbia is uniquely situated more than any other university to provide these opportunities for students.”


Aksheya Chandar – India 

“If there was one piece of advice I could give any international students, it’s as follows- be prepared for a culture shock. I don’t mean something obvious, I mean in the little things. In the way the education system works, the way society works, the way you shop, the way you eat- there are subtle differences that will pile up on you over time. It’s best to be prepared beforehand and come with a clean slate, unlearn what you learnt before in some senses.”


Cristina Bustillo – Colombia 

“The SUMA program offers an incredible mix of technical knowledge, real life skills, and events that is only possible in New York City. The program provides students with many leadership, internship, and skill-building opportunities that will result in a comprehensive educational experience. The program places great value in establishing real relationships between students and alumni, which promotes a great networking and mentoring environment and peer-to-peer knowledge transfer. By the end of the first semester you will feel part of a big SUMA family.”

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