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Academic Training

Academic Training (AT) is authorization to participate in training off-campus (whether paid or unpaid). Academic training is work, training, or experience directly related to a student’s major area of study. AT may involve sequential or simultaneous activities, with several employers, provided the application and approval procedures are followed for each employer and activity, and the time limits are not exceeded.  ISSS facilitates the AT application process and final authorization. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the application is submitted at least two weeks before the program completion date.


  • The J-1 Student must be in good academic standing.
  • The Academic Training must be with a specific employer or training site, and be directly related to the major field of study listed on the DS-2019.
  • Student must receive written approval in advance from their assigned ISSS advisor before beginning the training.
  • Unpaid academic training is authorized only prior to completion of the program, unless the training is a significant part of the field and that adequate funding can be provided to cover all expenses.
  • Academic Training can only be authorized by the program sponsor (Vanderbilt, Department of State, Fulbright, USAID, etc.)

Application Process

In order to apply for AT, you must schedule an appointment with an ISSS Adviser. Bring the following documents to your appointment:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Form DS-2019
  3. Academic Training Application completed in the ISSS portal with a recommendation from your Academic Adviser, Department Head, or Dean.
  4. Academic letter (on department letterhead) stating the goals and objectives of the proposed training program as well as how the training relates to the student’s field of study, and why it is an integral part of the student’s academic program.
  5. A job offer from your prospective employer which specifies the following in the body of the letter:
    1. Salary
    2. The location (street address) of employment
    3. Name of supervisor
    4. Description of training program
    5. The start and end dates of employment
    6. Number of working hours per week
  6. Once the training is complete, you must complete the online Academic Training (AT) Evaluation


Time Limitations

  • Students in Bachelor’s and Master’s level degree programs are permitted an overall limit of 18 months of academic training. Students in STEM fields may be eligible for additional academic training and should contact their assigned ISSS advisor for more information.
  • PhD students are eligible for a limit of 36 months of postdoctoral academic training.  A new DS-2019 must be issued for the second 18 months.
  • Non-degree students are limited to total stay of 24 months, including all study time plus any authorized academic training.
  • The total period of authorized academic training must not exceed the time enrolled as a full-time student.
  • Students must have an academic training offer before program completion and training must begin within 30 days after completion.
  • All Academic training is counted as full-time, even if employment is on a part-time basis.



ISSS authorizes Academic Training if eligibility criteria are met. ISSS provides the student with a letter and a notation on the DS-2019. No Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card or application with USCIS is needed. If your employer has any questions about the work authorization associated with academic training, contact your ISSS advisor.