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Day 1 CPT MBA Studying Experience at Westcliff University

I'm a Liberal Arts master’s graduate who transitioned to an MBA in IT Project Management at Westcliff University after my OPT expired without securing an H1B visa. The universal appeal of an MBA, which integrates management principles applicable across various industries, was the decisive factor in my choice. This not only aligns perfectly with my career aspirations but also broadens my professional horizons. In the following, I will share my experience of studying a day 1 CPT MBA program at Westcliff as well as what resources we can get from the school!


Academic Insights and Balancing Acts

Westcliff University operates on a tri-semester basis—Spring, Summer, and Fall—with each semester divided into two terms. This structure allows for flexible course planning, requiring only one 3-credit course per term to maintain full-time status. My typical term kicks off with in-person classes spread across a weekend:

  • Friday: 2:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Saturday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Sunday: 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

These sessions, though packed, exceed USCIS attendance requirements, safeguarding my student status. Subsequently, my second term shifts to a weekly online evening class via Zoom, accommodating my full-time employment without sacrificing academic progress.

Strategic Breaks and Continuous Learning

After three semesters, Westcliff students are eligible for a semester break, during which you can continue working under CPT, unaffected by the hiatus. This strategically extends my U.S. stay, potentially aligning with the H1B lottery schedule.

Academic Workload

For course selection, I referred to GoElite's internal professor rating system (Westcliff Courses Evaluation System), allowing me to choose professors that best fit my learning style based on past students' reviews.

Overall, the workload at Westcliff is quite manageable. The assignments aren't too demanding, and the GAP system Westcliff uses provides a clear schedule of weekly readings and upcoming deadlines. To keep applying for CPT work, it's crucial to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Thus, prioritizing weekly assignments is key to keeping your student status and work permits in good standing. Personally, I dedicate about 3-4 hours each week to assignments. Just like squeezing water from a sponge, you can always find time if you manage it wisely.

Navigating CPT with Precision

Despite a minor setback with the application deadline, GoElite swiftly ensured my timely enrollment by connecting me with an admissions advisor, Rochelle Norton. After submitting my application materials, I had a detailed one-hour Zoom meeting with Rochelle, who meticulously explained the enrollment and CPT application process. Each term has a specific deadline for CPT applications, and it's crucial not to miss these as the process is manual and takes 3-5 business days for the school to process.


I recommend that all prospective Westcliff students arrange a private meeting with their admissions advisor. Following your application, you'll be assigned an academic advisor who helps with course registration and any subsequent inquiries via email or scheduled Zoom meetings. After submitting your CPT application, an International Advisor will support you with all matters related to CPT for international students.

Notes for the Usage of OPT and CPT

Since this is my second master's degree in the United States, USCIS regulations permit only one OPT application at each degree level. Consequently, regardless of how I utilize CPT, I'm ineligible for OPT after this graduation. Hence, I've opted to utilize full-time CPT.

For those pursuing their first U.S. master's degree, you're entitled to three years of OPT post-graduation (one year of regular OPT and a two-year extension). This setup imposes certain restrictions on the usage of CPT and OPT.

Notably, using 12 months or more of full-time CPT will disqualify you from subsequent OPT eligibility. However, part-time CPT does not impact your OPT eligibility.

Many of my peers, aiming to secure their OPT rights post-graduation, strategically choose to engage in full-time CPT for no more than 11 months. Afterward, they shift to part-time work for the rest of their master’s program. This approach allows them to balance work and study effectively while preserving their eligibility for the three-year OPT period post-graduation—a prudent strategy indeed.

Commute and Connectivity

Westcliff's Irvine campus is a beacon of accessibility. Residing in LA, the commute is a breeze, and the campus parking facilities are a major convenience. Many of my peers, hailing from diverse locales like Texas and Colorado, find the proximity to major airports like LAX beneficial, especially during intensive on-campus days.

Job Search Support and Networking Opportunities

Finding international jobs and internships can be quite challenging. Fortunately, Westcliff University provides Interstride, a tool designed to assist international students. It offers specific filters like the Top 500 H1B, targeting employers known for substantial H1B sponsorships—nearly 70% of them. Another useful filter, the Cap Exempt Builder, helps locate positions in nonprofits and higher education institutions exempt from the H1B lottery.截屏2024-05-22 下午3.02.54

w3Additionally, if you're considering job options back in your home country, Interstride facilitates job and internship searches across more than 80 countries. So, good luck with your job hunt!

Moreover, attending classes on-campus at Westcliff offers excellent networking opportunities. Many of my classmates are professionals from leading tech firms like Amazon, Google, Deloitte, and Goldman Sachs, providing valuable insights and firsthand industry knowledge.

Engaging in Campus Life

Westcliff isn’t just about academics; it’s about building a vibrant community. Regularly organized off-campus activities provide a well-rounded experience, offering everything from beach outings to cultural excursions, enriching the student life experience.

Student Life Event:

  • Beach Day | 5/25 | 9 AM | Huntington Beach, CA
  • Student Life Fridays | Every Friday | Starting June 14th | Irvine, CA
  • Let's Explore Catalina Island | 6/22 | 8:30 AM
  • Aquarium of the Pacific | 7/13 | 10:30 AM | Long Beach, CA
  • OC Fair | 8/10 | Costa Mesa, CA

Student Club Event:

  • Warrior's Book Club - The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien | 5/21 | 5:00 PM | Virtual
  • Virtual Yoga for Everyone - Yoga Club | 5/28 | 6:30 PM | San Marco Park (Irvine, CA)

Concluding Thoughts

For prospective students eyeing a blend of education and practical exposure in the U.S., Westcliff University offers a dynamic environment where academic rigor meets extensive career support, set against the backdrop of one of the most vibrant cities in the U.S. Whether it's the academic flexibility, the strategic career support, or the rich tapestry of extracurricular activities, Westcliff stands out as a nurturing ground for both personal and professional growth.

Interested in learning more about Westcliff? Fill the form now!


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