James Cook University - Cairns - Semester or Year Abroad


Quick Links

General information applicable to all GlobaLinks Learning Abroad  Semester and Year Abroad Programs:

GlobaLinks Learnning Abroad offers program at James Cook University through our partner International Studies Abroad.

Please click here to apply or learn more about the James Cook University and all other Australia program options.

GlobaLinks Learning Abroad has designed this James Cook University program with your individual student goals in mind. It is built around a unique Discovery Model which is delivered by some of the best staff in study abroad, both in the U.S. and overseas, in order to provide you with an individualized experience through discovery in 5 key areas: personal, academic, cultural, social, and career. Learn more about the Discovery Model.

GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, formerly known as AustraLearn, offers semester and year abroad programs at James Cook University. James Cook University (JCU) combines excellence in teaching and research in a unique tropical setting. JCU is one of Queensland’s premier universities and Australia’s leading tropical University. Named after the British explorer Captain James Cook, the University offers quality education in a unique environment.

James Cook University’s main campuses are located in the northern Queensland cities of Townsville and Cairns, home to a combined 15,500 students including 1,600 international students from over 100 countries worldwide. Diverse environments, vibrant communities, and challenging academic programs are just a few of the reasons why so many students choose to study abroad at James Cook University. No other university can offer such a wide range of classes in the shadow of two of the world's finest natural heritage areas - The Wet Tropics Rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef.




Location Quickfacts (estimated)

Distance to city center by bus:

15 minutes

Distance to nearest airport:

20 minutes

About Cairns

Cairns is an attractive coastal city with a population of 170,000. Over two million visitors each year come to enjoy the spectacular natural attractions and activities on offer, including scuba diving and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef or exploring the ancient rainforest, rivers and waterfalls. Cairns enjoys an excellent tropical climate for most of the academic year including autumn, winter, and spring, and an average winter temperature of around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. 

North Queensland is well known for embracing a safe and relaxed tropical lifestyle. Established Indigenous, European, and Asian communities add to the cultural diversity of the region not usually found outside of the capital cities.

Described as the rainforest campus, the Cairns campus is surrounded on three sides by World heritage-listed rainforests and conveniently located near the attractive northern beach suburbs. Over 4000 students from 100 different countries study at the JCU Cairns campus.

The campus is approximately nine miles from downtown Cairns and offers modern facilities in a pleasant layout. 

Around the University

The Cairns campus location offers quick and easy access to some of the most popular Cairns attractions. You are less than a ten-minute bus-ride from the Cairns northern beaches, a favorite spot for sunny weekends.

Across from campus, Smithfield village offers several eating options, a grocery store, and medical center. If you want more variety, take a SunBus to Smithfield shopping center for some retail therapy.

The Kuranda Skyrail Rainforest cableway and extreme sport activities such as bungee-jumping and cable waterskiing are also nearby.

Academic Highlights

James Cook University is ranked in the top 4% of Universities worldwide and in the top 100 Asia-Pacific institutions and in the top 400 Universities in the world (Shanghai Jiao Tong Rankings and Higher Education and Accreditation Council). The University is world renowned for its research in a number of areas relating to its tropical location including marine biology, environmental studies, and tourism and has outstanding research facilities including island and rainforest research stations. JCU is also a member of the prestigious group, Innovative Research Universities (IRU). Accordingly, there are hundreds of study areas for students to choose from at an undergraduate level, many offering exciting, hands-on field components.

Study areas include

• Marine Biology
• Tropical Biology and Zoology
• Rainforest and Coastal Science
• Tourism and Hospitality Management
• Indigenous Australian Studies
• New Media Arts (including photography, sound, graphic design)
• Anthropology, Archaeology, Sociology
• Sport and Exercise Science
• Education
• Health Sciences including Nursing
• Psychology
• Earth Sciences/Geology
• Engineering
• Information Technology
• Business/Economics
• International Relations
Postgraduate study abroad options in study areas such as business, accounting, information technology, and tourism are also available.

University Services

James Cook University provides a full range of support services for students to help them make the most of their time at university. Whether you need help with an assignment, finding accommodation, personal welfare support, study skills assistance, or job seeking there are dedicated services on campus to assist you.

James Cook Student Center organizes all aspects of your study abroad semester or year with us, from application to arrival, enrollment, and orientation. The Student Center is your first point of contact if you need assistance at JCU and provides a range of services and information including:

  • preparing for arrival information and free arrival service
  • international orientation program
  • social activities
  • accommodation information
  • personal well-being and welfare support
  • Overseas Student Health Cover information


As a GlobaLinks Learning Abroad student you are guaranteed pre-arranged accommodation to fit your lifestyle. There are a variety of housing options available which you will apply for after acceptance. Read below for more specific options offered at this university:

Students have the option of living in a pre-arranged accommodation while studying at the Cairns campus in a fully catered student lodge linked to the campus by a pedestrian walkway/bicycle path. For students who prefer off-campus accommodation, the Accommodation Service maintains a register of rental properties for students in nearby suburbs.


Bridging Cultures Program

The GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Bridging Cultures Program is our signature orientation program for all semester and year abroad students. The cost for this multi-day program is included in your program fees and covers several nights accommodation, most meals, local transportation, and excursions.

  • Typically 4-6 days in length, each orientation program includes:
  • Exciting excursions and activities
  • A chance to meet other students

Orientation sessions to help you adapt to your new country

Orientation sites vary based on the location of your program. Each site is selected based on the proximity to your host university as well as for the unique activities available within the area.

Read more about the Bridging Cultures Program>

James Cook University Orientation

In addition James Cook University will provide an onsite orientation upon arrival to your university. Orientating yourself to Cairns is just the beginning in finding your way around your new “home away from home.” James Cook International works to ensure your transition to living and studying in Australia is as smooth as possible. They will meet you after the GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Bridging Cultures Program and take you to your pre-arranged accommodation. After you have settled in we host a special Welcome Pack Information Session to help you become familiar with the campus and community and answer any questions you may have about studying at JCU.

Orientation “O” Week activities are held the week before classes start and during this time you’ll meet Australian and International students, academic advisors to finalize your subject selection, get to know your way around the campus and facilities and participate in social events. “O” Week promises to be a great start to your study abroad experience at JCU.

Scholarships Available

In addition to the scholarships offered by GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, James Cook University supports GlobaLinks Learning Abroad students with two $500 AUD awards per year.

Special Programs/Excursions



Orientation sites vary based on the location of your program. Each site is selected based on the proximity to your host university as well as for the unique activities available within the area. Read more about the Bridging Cultures Program>

Discovery Activities 

Planned Excursions & Events

Our in-country resident staff arranges scheduled activities with students throughout the year. Activities are optional and designed to explore the five key areas of discovery: academic, social, personal, cultural, and professional. These are not just visits to tourist attractions. For example, these are activities such as networking opportunities, local festivals, gallery openings, and other similar events that you can’t find in a travel book. These activities will truly enhance your experience.

On-Going Activities

Your exploration of the culture, the academics, the people, and yourself is what will truly enhance your experience. Through the Discovery Model, our in-country staff will provide you with advice and recommendations for other types of activities you can undertake in order achieve your individual goals.

Specific Excursions Included in Your Program Fees  

Multi Day Excursions included in your program fee

In addition to the Bridging Cultures Program, a free multi-day excursion is included in all semester/year abroad programs in Australia, New Zealand, or Fiji. Students studying in these destinations can choose from one of the four excursions listed to the right. The cost of the excursion is included; however, you will need to pay for transportation to the destination. Learn more>

Other Tours and Travel Available

Beyond our included orientation and excursions, you will be able to pre-book a wide variety of day, weekend, and week-long tours at a discounted price through our travel partner, STA Travel. These trips provide the ultimate flexibility for you to travel where you want to go, when you want to go, and with whom you want to go. Most trips have open dates, so you can pre-book the trip(s) that interest you, yet choose your dates later on in your semester. This flexibility also means friends that you make from other countries/programs or even your friends and family who are visiting you abroad can also participate. Learn more>

JCU offers study abroad students a range of specialist study areas not offered in many parts of the world, including Aboriginal Studies and Reef and Rainforest Science. A highlight of the JCU study abroad program is the inclusion of a practical component and/or field trips within many subjects, enabling you to study in the spectacular natural environment of North Queensland. One example is the subject, Linking Indigenousness, which provides students with the opportunity to camp with aboriginal communities and be taught by the elders in the rainforest, bushland, and desert outback.

Why not join new students and go on an adventure tour to Green Island, bungy jumping, a visit to the Great Barrier Reef or the Daintree? As a part of JCU Orientation “O” Week, the JCU Student Association organizes trips to nearby attractions and with the new friends you make you’re sure to see much more during your stay! A welcome event is also organized for all new students in addition to many other activities held throughout the year such as Arts Week, Cultural Festival, Campus Bands Competition, Green Week, campus movie nights and much more!

Bridging Cultures Program

The GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Bridging Cultures Program is our signature orientation program for all semester and year abroad students. The cost for this multi-day program is included in your program fees and covers several nights accommodation, most meals, local transportation, and excursions.

Typically 4-6 days in length, each orientation program includes:

Exciting excursions and activities

A chance to meet other students

Orientation sessions to help you adapt to your new country

Get Involved Abroad

Extracurricular Activities

James Cook University locations offer a large variety of outdoor activities including visits to the Great Barrier Reef and nearby islands and resorts, day-trips to historic outback towns such as Charters Towers, and World Heritage listed rainforests within an hour drive of both campuses.

Popular outdoor water sports such as sailing, canoeing, kayaking, water-skiing and jet-skiing are all local options while some students prefer the adrenaline rush of close-by white water rafting, skydiving, and bungy jumping. There are plenty of hiking and cycling trails to be explored as well.

Townsville and Cairns are also home to professional rugby, soccer, and basketball clubs, and a variety of intramural sporting activities such as beach volleyball, tennis, field hockey, basketball, and soccer are also available. Whatever your personal interests, there are an abundance of activities on offer in JCU campus cities and surroundings.

Community Involvement

While abroad, we recommend getting involved in your local community. It's an awesome way to meet locals, experience the true Australian culture, and create long lasting memories. From volunteering to festival-going, we challenge you to make the most of your international experience... See a sample of community involvement opportunities available in Cairns or discover your own upon arrival!

Course Catalog

To determine if the classes you need are available at this university, select Courses/Subjects to view the specific course options.

Tips: For advice on navigating the university’s course catalog, use the Selecting Courses link. You may also view the suggested grade and credit transfer information through the Grade Conversion.

If you have any questions about course availability, please contact studyabroad@globalinksabroad.org.

Photo Slideshow

Watch a slideshow of photos highlighting James Cook University.


James Cook University - Cairns
All fees listed are for first term onlyYear Abroad Advice
Program FeesTBD
Housing with MealsApproximately $4,800 - $6,100
Housing without MealsN/A
What's includedSee below

Fee Includes

Your Personalized Semester/Year Program Includes

  • Tuition and instruction
  • Host university activity and insurance fees
  • 24/7 support for students and parents at home and abroad
  • Pre-departure materials and travel gear
  • Comprehensive assistance
  • Personal program manager
  • Scholarship and financial aid assistance
  • Facilitation of course selection / credit transfer

Activity and Excursion Package

Additional Housing Fee

Housing amenities are generally:

  • Single room
  • Technology package available
  • Linen package available

An additional refundable housing deposit may be required for your housing selection. This housing is self-catered, therefore you will have access to a kitchen where you can prepare your own meals.

*All fees are subject to change.




Should you receive an offer, your offer letter will provide you with the most up to date university start dates. GlobaLinks Learning Abroad will attempt to provide you with the most up-to-date information as we receive it. Be sure to confirm dates before finalizing any travel plans. 

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have the required GPA and have completed at least the equivalent of one year of full-time study at the university/college level.

Required GPA: 2.50

GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Program Team

Program Manager
Program Manager

Advice From The Program Team:
Both cities offer an abundance of outdoor activities - snorkeling, diving, hiking, biking and so much more! The weather is warm and great for being outside!