International students who maintain legal status under the regulations set forth by the U.S. government can generally be allowed to work for wages on campus. Permission to work off campus can also be obtained for the purpose of practical training and in a small number of other situations. Students must always check with an International Student Advisorin the Office of International Programs (OIP) to secure work permission and complete required paperwork needed for MSU Payroll Office (I-9 and W-4.Once you have found a job, please submit your Letter of Hire and our Pre-Employment Form to an ISSS Advisor. Your employment paperwork will then be prepared and you will receive an e-mail in about five working days.

Curricular Practical (CPT) Training Guide

CPT is a benefit for F-1 students that must be "an integral part of an established curriculum" that grants permission to work off campus per compliance guidelines.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Form

An F-1 student, may qualify for optional practical training which allows the student to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience in his or her field of study.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Guide

A guide that explains the process of applying for OPT for an F01 student to engage in temporary employment to gain practical experience in his or her field of study.

STEM OPT Extension Form

Students who are currently on OPT and who graduated with a qualifying degree in a STEM major (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) may be eligible to apply for an additional 24-month extension of their OPT.

STEM OPT Extension Guide

A guide for students currently on OPT, in a STEM field, who may be eligible to apply for an additional 24-month extension of their OPT.

Academic Training for J-1 Exchange Students

Academic Training is permission to work anywhere in the U.S. for training purposes granted to Exchange students in good J-1 standing. This allows them to remain in the U.S. after their program of studies ends.

On-Campus Employment

On-campus employment is widely available, and most employers are aware of the need to allow students some flexibility to work around class schedules. Many students work to earn spending money, to pay their living expenses, or to supplement their school funding. Work can also be a good break from studying, help a student make new friends, practice English, or learn new skills. Students are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week in most cases during the academic year, and full-time, 40 hours per week, during vacation periods and in the summer. Pay ranges from approximately US$8.00 to $10.50 per hour. Pay checks are issued once per month on the 11th day. Some taxes will be withheld from each paycheck, but students will often be eligible for a full or partial tax refund at the end of the tax year.

To Find a Job

To find a job, students should visit the Office of Career, Internship & Student Employment Services in the lower level of the Student Union Building (SUB) and read through the on-campus job listings on the bulletin board. Jobs classified as "student employment" are potentially open to all students. (Please note that jobs identified as "work study" positions are subsidized by the federal government and available only to qualified U.S. citizens and permanent residents.) Once a possible job is found in the listings, students can speak with the job coordinator in Career Services to get details about how to apply for the position. 

Likewise, Hire A Bobcat is a website with a number of job postings specifically aimed for students at MSU. However, it is important to make sure that the job meets the requirements (either on-campus or is practical training) as there is a multitude of jobs posted on the website. If you are unsure if the position fits your work requirements, talk to OIP.

Other Ways to Find an On-Campus Job Include

  1. asking professors or others in the student's major department about possibilities,

  2. talking with other students to find out about job opportunities,

  3. contacting some of the key employers on campus directly:

First-Ever Jobs

First jobs are often found in a service position, but as a student gains experience and knowledge about the opportunities on campus, jobs can often be found that relate more closely to the student's study area and that can be useful to include on a resume. Highly motivated undergraduate students can sometimes find paid positions as part of a research project. Graduate students may be offered teaching assistantships (TAs) or research assistantships (RAs) in their major department.


Employers will provide training for student employees and outline their expectations for the job. Employers must follow fair practices and treat employees equally. Student employees are well-advised to arrive to work on-time, notify the employer in advance if illness or some other situation prevents them from working as scheduled, follow rules and regulations, and work to fulfill the responsibilities of the job. Building a reputation as a "good worker" is useful in gaining better positions and positive referrals.

Social Security Number

First of all, you may begin working before your social security number is assigned, however, it is important to apply for the number promptly. In order to apply for a Social Security Number, F-1 and J-1 students must first secure a job and have a letter of employment. They must then visit the Office of International Programs to fill out the appropriate paperwork and to receive the permission to apply at the Social Security Administration. This cannot be done any earlier than 10 working days after initial entry to the United States (the date on the I-94 card). 

The student can then apply in person at the Social Security Administration once the paperwork with OIP is complete. Students should make sure tho bring a passport, I-94 card, I-20 or DS-2019, Letter of Employment, and documents prepared at OIP. The Social Security Administration is located at:

3205 North 27th Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59718

Phone: (406) 586-4501 or 1-800-772-1213

Note: The building is located behind the Target Store; by bus, take the blue line, it is the last stop.

The SSN is a very personal number that should be kept private and given only to reliable and safe offices such as an employer, bank, insurance, doctor or phone company. Keep your card in a safe place, do not carry it or any other document that shows your SSN.

Note: Canadian citizens cannot use the Canadian SSN as a U.S. SSN. Applying for a SSN can only happen while in the U.S. through the above procedure.