Semester in Tropical North Queensland
James Cook University

LGBTQIA+ Friendly

Study and live where the reef meets the rainforest.

Just an hour from the Great Barrier Reef, James Cook University is a top-notch university with a backdrop of tropical islands, thick rainforests, and lush parks (plus they’ve got an aquarium on campus!). With hundreds of subjects to choose from, hands-on learning including field trips, and real-world projects with business and industry organizations, you’re well-placed to get the most out of your studies. Courses include excursions to islands, JCU outback research stations, and some of Australia’s best-kept secrets!

What to Expect:

  • Language: English
  • Average Courseload: 4 classes (12-16 U.S. credits)
  • GPA Requirement: 2.5


  • World-renowned marine and environmental academic programs
  • Tropical environment, with temps ranging from 60-90 degrees year round
  • Residence hall living with meal plan—no worries!
  • AACSB International Business School accreditation
  • Official James Cook University DIGITAL Transcript

Program Details

James Cook University

Our Semester in Tropical North Queensland is located at James Cook University. Founded in 1970, James Cook has a unique location, situated between rainforest, dry savannas, and the Great Barrier Reef. This means you can study in a diverse physical environment unparalleled by any university in the world.

The University is famous for its marine, environmental, and sustainability research. That said, many of the 15,000 students study topics outside of the natural sciences. You can choose to take courses in a range of subjects, including biomedical science, business, information technology, psychology, and much more. James Cook’s close-knit community means you’ll get to know your fellow students, faculty, and administrators. And taking classes in the tropics is an incredible experience—experiential courses might put your “classroom” on the Reef itself!

James Cook also has a campus in Townsville, where 11,500 students attend, including over 1,500 international students. The campus is in a suburban location on nearly 1,000 acres of natural “bush.” The campus has teaching and research facilities, cafes and bars, fitness and sporting facilities, and a wealth of student clubs and societies. Around ten percent of James Cook students live on campus, giving the University a true community atmosphere.

Accredited by The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations of Australia

Beginning effective January 1, 2020, all CIS Abroad returning transcripts from institutions in Australia will be completely digital. This will mean no physical copies of transcripts will be mailed for this program.

Areas of study which have more than 8 classes available

  • Art & Design
  • Communications
  • Business
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Natural & Applied Sciences
  • Health
  • Humanities
  • World Languages

Don't see your major listed here? There may still be courses available. Browse our programs by major.

Beginning effective January 1, 2020, all CIS Abroad returning transcripts from institutions in Australia will be completely digital. This will mean no physical copies of transcripts will be mailed for this program.

Semester in Tropical North Queensland offers two 14-week semesters, starting in July and February. James Cook University (JCU) is a top university for studying sustainability and environmental research.

Course search instructions:
Courses with the prefix of ML, PS, RH, TV, PC, MD & DS are part of JCU’s health and medicine subjects and are not typically available to Study Abroad and Exchange students.

Ensure you choose the proper “campus.”

Course search:
To explore a list of courses you can take at James Cook University, click here.

Courses that typically offer experiential field trips:

Australia Vertebrate Fauna
Biodiversity of Tropical Australia
Ecology and Conservation
Plant Survival in a Land of Fire, Flood, and Drought
Populations and Community Ecology
Rainforest Ecosystems
Wildlife Ecology and Management
Australian Landscape Processes and Evolution
Coral Reef Geomorphology
Managing Coastal and Marine Environments
Linking Indigenousness
Functional Biology of Marine Organisms
Marine Ecology and Environmental Assessment
Coral Reef Ecology
Coral Reef Ecosystems
Evolution and Ecology of Reef Fishes
Life History and Evolution of Reef Corals
Descriptive Physical Oceanography

Why Life in Townsville

Townsville is a charming coastal city that offers visitors a world of new experiences. You can spend your day exploring the outback, relaxing at the beach, shopping at the local markets, or dancing at one of the many music festivals. And, with only 110,000 people, it has everything a student could want without being in an overwhelmingly big city. Best of all, Townsville has 320 days of sunshine a year!

Townsville is most known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. You’ll have a chance to visit the Reef as part of your orientation program. Because you’ll live so close, you can return again and again to the Reef to explore the awe-inspiring marine life and tropical islands. The inhabited Magnetic Island is also only 20 minutes from the city center, where you’ll find nature walks, abundant wildlife (think koalas and wallabies!), and inviting beaches. The mountainous terrain and turquoise waters of the Coral Sea will awe you. Over half of this beloved island is a World Heritage listed national park.

After a day in the water, wilderness, or at university, unwind at the endless beach-front esplanade. Discover international cuisine, abundant cafes, a world-famous aquarium, and vibrant nightlife. You can also join the locals in cheering on their two major sporting teams. Townsville is one of Australia’s premier tourist destinations, with a jam-packed calendar filled with sporting, aquatic, cultural, and historical events throughout the year. Australia is famous for sun, surf, and scenery—and you’ll get it all by studying abroad in Townsville.

Live La Vida Local

  • Farmers Markets

    We love our fresh produce – check out the North Shore Markets each Saturday to stock up on your fresh fruit and veg for the week or visit the Cotters Markets or Willows Rotary Markets on Sundays.

  • Museum of Tropical Queensland

    When you are in the mood to learn and the air-conditioning is calling –this is the place for you. Every day at 11am and 2:30pm the museum holds demonstrations where you can learn how to load and fire a six-pounder cannon at their star attraction, the HMS Pandora.

  • Secret Street Art Trail

    Townsville is known for its laid-back attitude. Many are surprised that there’s a vibrant street art scene – you just have to know where to look. Keep an eye out for local coffee hot spot Hoi Polloi Espresso Bar.

  • Billabong Sanctuary

    If you can’t get enough of our wildlife this one is for you! Kangaroo-feeding plus koalas, wombats and a great reptile experience.

  • The Strand

    Mix with the locals and enjoy the great cafes along the foreshore which is always a popular running and cycling track if you are feeling fit. From May to December each year, on the first Friday of the month, The Strand Night Markets light up the park with entertainment, live music, and loads of market stalls.

Housing at James Cook University


CIS Abroad students will live in private rooms in university-run residence halls. Each hall is within a short walk or bike ride of the center of campus.

Just like in the US, residence hall living helps you become part of a community. To help facilitate community building, common areas include a communal kitchenette, recreation rooms, outdoor courts (volleyball and basketball), and TV rooms.

Note: Some rooms have air conditioning, while others have a ceiling or floor fan.

Take a look at the photo gallery to see what your housing might be like.


All students on this program get a full meal plan while living in the halls, which includes 21 meals per week (breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day)! PLUS, the residence halls have communal kitchenettes if you ever want to cook something for yourself or your friends.

Inclusions and Amenities

  • 24-hour security
  • Air conditioning
  • CommuteWalking
  • Desk
  • LaundryOn-site
  • Meal PlanIncluded
  • Private Room
  • Study Areas
  • Television
  • Wi-Fi

What's Included


Program fees are in U.S. dollars and include the following:

  • 4 day Great Barrier Reef Excursion
  • Full-time tuition and fees
  • Housing (residence halls) and full meal plan
  • Medical and accident insurance
  • Overseas Health Insurance (mandatory for any student studying in Australia)
  • CIS Abroad support services before, during, and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial aid counseling
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure orientation
  • Airport pickup
  • James Cook University orientation
  • On-site support
  • James Cook University official transcript
  • La Vida Local cultural program

Welcome & Orientation

Your program will kick off with the action-packed and engaging Great Barrier Reef Orientation. This 4-day/3-night orientation will provide you with an amazing introduction to Australia’s culture, wildlife, and natural environments. Get ready to be on your feet (and in the water) much of the time, visiting places like the rainforest, indigenous communities, and the Great Barrier Reef. Also do things we know you came a long way to do, like holding koalas, snorkeling, and feeding kangaroos.

This active and engaging orientation program isn’t just one big adventure, however! Discuss program and behavioral expectations, touching on topics such as culture, slang, food, and where to go and what to do when you settle into your new home in Townsville. Once you’re settled in, get an orientation at James Cook University to help you get adjusted.

Farewell & Re-Entry Program

Though you’re not an astronaut returning from space, re-entering your home culture after being abroad can be shocking to the system. Your site director will walk you through some of the things to expect and help you reflect on your time abroad so that you can remember the highlights. Also, enjoy a group meal as part of your farewell to Australia.

Program Excursions

While participating on a CIS Abroad program, you'll be able to take part in built-in day trips at no additional cost. These trips are subject to change from term to term; listed below are excursions that have run in the past.

4-Day Orientation on the Great Barrier Reef

Talk about an amazing orientation! Spend 4 days learning about the environmental and cultural beauty that Australia has to offer in the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you spend your time snorkeling or exploring the rain forest, you won’t leave Cairns without some unbelievable photos and memories!

Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island

A short ferry ride away takes you to a different world: a mountainous island with twenty-three beaches and bays. We’ll explore by foot to discover stunning views, clear snorkelling spots, and—if we’re lucky—a few local wild koalas.

300 Smiles Stadium

300 Smiles Stadium

This famous stadium is home to the North Queensland Cowboys NRL team. Catch a rugby game at the home-team stadium—a 26,500-capacity venue a few minutes from the center of Townsville.

Your Support Staff

CIS Abroad Advising & Support
Travel Tip:

You’ll be supported every step of the way!

Global Advising

Our advising team will help match you with a program that fits your academic and personal needs. Once you have selected your program our advisor will help you complete your Online Application.

Program Enrollment

Once you’ve started your application and submitted the $90 deposit, you’ll be assigned a program enrollment coordinator who will guide you through the enrollment process to get you abroad!

Alexandra Woolner
Travel Tip:

Expect the unexpected! Sometimes culture shock is stronger in countries where you expect things to be more similar to your home country and environment. Traveling abroad is an excellent way to learn more about your own culture, habits, style, and adaptability.

COVID-19 Plan

We believe that study abroad is still possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but certain policies and procedures will need to be in place to ensure every student can be safe and healthy during their semester abroad.

Learn more about CIS Abroad’s Risk Management Team’s three step process for operating  our programs around the world and important program refund policies.

Read more below for information related to this program:

Program Suspended

This program is currently not available for the Academic Year 2021/22. Please consider other options by exploring our Open Semester Programs in 2022, Open January Programs in 2022, or consider a Virtual Internship.

We monitor international indicators and health standards in the country where we operate and our risk management team makes decisions based on those factors and our own policy. We will reopen programs as we are able.

Dates & Prices

ADVISOR TIP: Please WAIT to book flights until you have received confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork. Dates posted here are subject to change.

  • Application Deadline: Nov 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: February 9 (Estimated)
  • Departure: June 19 (Estimated)
  • Price: $19,990 (Estimated)
  • Application Deadline: Apr 15 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: July 13 (Estimated)
  • Departure: November 20 (Estimated)
  • Price: $19,990 (Estimated)
  • Application Deadline: Nov 1 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: February 9 (Estimated)
  • Departure: June 19 (Estimated)
  • Price: $19,990 (Estimated)
  • Application Deadline: Apr 15 (Estimated)
  • Arrival: July 13 (Estimated)
  • Departure: November 20 (Estimated)
  • Price: $19,990 (Estimated)
Additional Information:

As with all study abroad programs, you should count on a few additional expenses.

CIS Abroad reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partner universities.