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Australia Study Abroad Program at James Cook University

About James Cook University in Cairns & Townsville, Australia

  • Minimum GPA: 2.5 (4.0 scale)
  • Application deadlines: November 15 for semester 1 (Feb-June)
    November 15 for calendar year (Feb-Nov)
    March 15 for semester 2 (July-Nov)
    March 15 for academic year (July-June)
  • Program advisor: Emma Diebold
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Program Snapshot


We're so excited that you're considering IFSA-Butler's program at James Cook University in Townsville or Cairns for your semester or year abroad.  James Cook is is one of the world's leading institutions focusing on the tropics and is surrounded by the spectacular ecosystems of the rainforests of the Wet tropics, the dry savannahs and the iconic Great Barrier Reef. We're sure you're going to love studying there!

What James Cook has to offer

  • Ranked in the top 4 percent of universities worldwide by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking of World Universities
  • Smaller class sizes and accessible teaching staff
  • Two friendly campuses: at Townsville, in natural bushland that is home to wildlife such as cockatoos, kookaburras, scrub turkeys, wallabies and kangaroos; and at Cairns, surrounded by rainforest-covered hills and 30 minutes from the beach
  • Each campus is a relaxing environment with extensive bike paths and local bus services to the central business districts of both cities
  • On-campus entertainment, athletic facilities and membership in a range of student clubs and organizations available
  • JCU's unique location enables students to study in a diverse physical environment unparalleled by any university in the world
  • Learn more by visiting JCU's YouTube channel


  • Housing at Townsville is in on-campus residence halls
  • Housing at Cairns is in the Student Lodge, approximately a 10-minute walk from campus
  • Two to three meals per day, depending on campus, are included in the program fee


  • Student enrollments include over 6,000 international students from 100 countries
  • Over 300 programs available to international students
  • Courses and subjects are designed with clear learning outcomes, coherent structures and manageable workloads
  • Students take four courses per semester

We look forward to working with you!



Where can I find a list of courses that the university offers?
Open the James Cook University online course catalog.

What courses am I eligible to take?
As an IFSA-Butler student, you are entitled to enroll in undergraduate courses for which you are qualified and in which space is available. Course descriptions in the online course catalog (see above) include prerequisites you must fulfill in order to enroll in each course.

For each course that you list on your preference form, be sure to check the following:

  • When determining which courses to take, please bear in mind that the Australian academic system is an intensive, three-year program.
    • First-year (1000-level) courses are appropriate for departments in which you have little or no prior experience.
    • Second-year (2000-level) courses will be equivalent to advanced sophomore or junior-level U.S. courses.
    • Third-year (3000-level) courses will be equivalent to senior-level U.S. courses.
    • Fourth-year (4000-level) courses and higher are part of a postgraduate degree (Masters or Ph.D.). You are not eligible to take these courses as an undergraduate student.
  • IFSA students are eligible to take only courses listed as "Internal" in the description. You will not be permitted to take classes listed as "Block Mode," "Limited," or "External."
  • Remember in Australia, U.S. fall semester = semester 2 and U.S. spring semester = semester 1. Be sure to select courses for the correct semester you are studying abroad.

What if I need to take a required course?
Please be aware that IFSA-Butler cannot guarantee that your host university will offer a particular course, or that you will be allowed to take that particular course. However, if you need to take a required course, you may indicate that it is required on your course preference form. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor will communicate your needs to your host university.

Course Restrictions

Fourth-year (4000-level) courses and higher are part of a postgraduate degree (Masters or Ph.D.). You are not eligible to take these courses as an undergraduate student.

IFSA students are eligible to take only courses listed as "Internal" in the description. You will not be permitted to take classes listed as "Block Mode," "Limited," or "External."


How many courses am I able to take, and how do I determine U.S. semester credit hours?
IFSA-Butler requires students to enroll in a full course load at the host institution, 12 JCU credits per semester or 24 credits per year.  This is the equivalent of 16 U.S. credit hours per semester.  

3 JCU credits = 4 U.S. semester credit hours


What are the registration conditions?
You must take a full James Cook University course load as determined by IFSA-Butler. Credit will be awarded on a Butler University transcript based on a typical U.S. full course load. All courses are graded on an A-F scale, and there is no provision for pass/fail or auditing courses unless pass/fail is the only method of assessment for the course. You are not allowed to register for online, distance education or hybrid courses.

You should also be aware that you may be charged additional fees by your home institution or host university to take or process additional credits. Taking less than a full course load may jeopardize your student status and result in personal academic repercussions and/or loss of financial aid.

The course preference form is not a registration form; it is a guideline to let your host university know which courses you are interested in taking abroad. You should discuss your course selections with your academic advisor at your home institution and have several backup choices in mind. Neither you nor the university is bound by your selections, and you will not officially register for courses until you arrive on campus.


What do I need to know about exams?
Because of the differences in the academic systems, you will not know your exam schedule until after you arrive at your host university. Please refer to your program calendar to review the exam period for your host university. Your host university's policies do not permit you to reschedule any exams, request alternate assessments or arrange to have your exams proctored in the United States. If this occurs, IFSA-Butler cannot assist you in conducting a grade appeal or academic follow-up for the course in which you made this arrangement. You will need to complete and submit all academic work prior to departing the program.


How will my home university know what my classes were and what grades I received?
After you have returned to the U.S., your home university will receive a Butler University transcript with the credit you earned at James Cook University. The Butler University transcript will report the equivalent U.S. semester credit hours and letter grades. We also will send an official transcript to your permanent address.


Housing Options

What are my housing options?
The following housing options are available during your semester or year abroad.

The Cairns Student Lodge is located a short 10 minute walk away from the James Cook University campus. A resort-style swimming pool, beach volleyball court, pool table, licensed bar, and cable TV in the lounge area are all popular facilities used by students at the lodge.

Each student will have their own bedroom that comes supplied with bedding, linens, towels and also a telephone. Students will share a fully furnished unit (called a "cluster") which is made up of 3 bedrooms with common lounge and bathroom areas. Each bedroom has its own key which only opens that one bedroom door. The bathroom and fully air-conditioned living areas are shared with two other students per cluster. Clusters do not have kitchen facilities; however they have a microwave, kettle and fridge. Clusters are usually gender exclusive.

Students live in residential colleges on the Townsville campus.

  • George Roberts Hall
    250 students
    All linens provided
    All rooms air-conditioned; usage fees apply
    Single rooms with shared bathrooms

  • St. Paul's College
    150 students (male only)
    All linens provided
    Ceiling fans only, no air-conditioning
    Single-sex halls, shared bathrooms

    St. Raphael's College (women-only wing)
    78 students
    All linens provided
    Ceiling fans only, no air conditioning
    Shared bathrooms

  • University Hall
    300 students
    All linens provided
    Air conditioning is not provided
    Coed halls, shared bathroom facilities


All Townsville housing options are catered, and three meals per day are included in the program fee.

At the Cairns campus, students are automatically provided three meals per day, seven days a week.

Housing FAQs

Is my housing included in the program fee?
Yes. Your program fee includes accommodation at the university while classes are in session. You will be responsible for any commuting costs you may incur. Australian university housing requires students to move out during breaks between semesters. If you are studying abroad for a year and wish to remain in residence during the vacation period(s), you must notify the university housing office upon arrival to make necessary arrangements. Staying in residence during these breaks may incur additional costs not covered by the IFSA-Butler program fee.

When will I receive my housing assignment?
You will most likely receive your housing assignment one to two weeks before your departure. However, in some cases you may not receive your housing assignment until you arrive in Australia for orientation. Your program advisor will notify you of your housing assignment via e-mail when it is released by the university.

Please keep in mind that while IFSA-Butler guarantees housing, we cannot guarantee your preferences.

Can I arrange my own housing?
Yes. IFSA-Butler recognizes that some students require independent housing for their time abroad. If you choose not to take advantage of our guaranteed housing, you may sign up for independent housing on the housing preference form. Once you've made this choice, we will not provide housing for you or bill you for the accommodation fee.

Please be advised that housing costs can be high abroad, and many times students living independently end up spending more money than students living in IFSA-Butler arranged housing. If you are hoping to save money by arranging housing on your own, please research your options early so you can compare costs. You must notify us of your intention to live in independent housing by the program application deadline for your term abroad, listed at the top of this page. We are not able to accommodate independent housing requests after the deadline.

Location Info


About Cairns
Population: 158,000
Location: State of Queensland, in the far northeast corner of Australia

City features

  • A young, cosmopolitan atmosphere with plenty of cafes, bars, restaurants and entertainment
  • A tourist destination with access to the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef (30 minutes by boat) and the tropical rainforests
  • A unique environment close to the beautiful tropical beaches and resort regions of Port Douglas and Palm Cove

Do more!

  • Take the four-hour scenic coastal drive between Townsville and Cairns
  • Visit the Great Barrier Reef and the nearby World Heritage Wet Tropics rainforest
  • Try scuba diving, snorkeling and whitewater rafting
  • Visit the Atherton Tablelands, Daintree Rainforest and SkyRail cableway to Kuranda rainforest village, all within easy reach of Cairns

City of Cairns
Cairns Tourism
Great Barrier Reef
Magnetic Island
Destination Queensland
Queensland Sunzine
Raging Thunder(an adventure tour company)


About Townsville
Population: 175,000
Location: State of Queensland, northeast Australia

City features

  • The capital of North Queensland and a center for trade, government, health and education
  • The Australian Army also has a large presence in Townsville because of a nearby base
  • Located just 10 minutes from the coast and close to the hills of North Queensland
  • Offers access to both land and sea attractions

Do more!

  • Take the four-hour scenic coastal drive between Townsville and Cairns
  • Go bushwalking, skydiving, fishing, jet skiing or picnicking on the Strand, Australia's best urban beachfront
  • Visit Magnetic Island with its national parks and wild koala population, just a 25-minute ferry ride from the center of town
  • Explore Paluma, a village in the rainforest only an hour's drive north of Townsville
  • Visit Castle Hill, offering superb views of Townsville
  • Explore Billabong Sanctuary to cuddle a koala or feed kangaroo
  • Try scuba diving, snorkeling and whitewater rafting

Townsville Online
Great Barrier Reef
Magnetic Island
Destination Queensland
Townsville News
Queensland Sunzine

Dates & Fees

Program Dates

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IFSA-Butler orientation begins at 11 a.m. on the orientation start date.

Your program end date may change due to circumstances beyond IFSA-Butler's control. Upon arrival at your host university, be sure to verify your exam schedule and program end date. We also strongly recommend that you investigate fees and penalties associated with your airline tickets in case you need to make date or route changes.

All program support services end on the “Program Ends” date.

Exams must be taken where and when scheduled. Under no circumstances may students request that an exam time be changed. In Australia exams are taken under formal examination conditions, and changes cannot be made for individuals. 

Program Fees

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What's included in our Australia program fees
Expense calculator

Calendar Year and Semester 1 Payments Due: December 15
Academic Year and Semester 2 Payments Due:
May 15

Program Fee Bills
IFSA-Butler will send a single bill for tuition, services and housing. Any bills for tuition differentials and/or supplemental housing fees will be sent separately. Students who opt for independent housing will not be charged the housing component of the program fee.

The housing component of our program fee is based on the average cost of local student self-catering accommodation, usually a shared room in a regular dormitory, apartment or house without any extra features.

The program fee for Townsville includes three meals per day. The program fee for Cairns includes dinner seven days per week, brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and choice of breakfast or lunch Monday through Friday.

Personal Cost Estimates

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Expense calculator

These figures are designed to assist students with financial planning but are only estimates based on past students’ experiences at the current exchange rate. They do not include any entertainment or vacation travel costs. Meals are estimated based on the cost of a weekly standard grocery shop with one meal out.  If you plan to eat out once a day or more, we recommend using a higher estimate.  If you have dietary restrictions or follow a specific diet (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, organic, etc), you may also wish to budget more due to the higher cost of specialty food items.

The above numbers are general estimates of expenses during a program abroad. We recommend taking into account your current spending habits, the cost of living in your host country and the current exchange rate. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor can be helpful as you attempt to work on a personal budget for your experience abroad.

**Meals: The program fee for the Townsville campus includes three meals per day. The program fee for the Cairns campus includes two meals per day.

Personal Miscellaneous: Covers general expenses of college life, including course supplies, photocopying, toiletries, snacks, personal care, etc.

Commuting: Estimates are for transportation between housing and university. Transportation for personal or recreational purposes is not included in the above estimates.

All costs are in U.S. dollars.

Meet Your IFSA-Butler Team

IFSA-Butler has a dedicated team of staff who are here to help students prepare for their program in Australia:

emmaProgram Advisor Emma Diebold assists with the application process and is here to answer program, cultural and academic questions before departure. Emma completed her undergraduate degree in Geography: Travel & Tourism at Ball State University. She went abroad with the BSU Geography Department to Eastern and Central Europe and has enjoyed personal travels to several destinations including Belgium, France, Ireland, Peru, Ecuador and The Bahamas. Emma joined the IFSA-Butler team to aid students who want to explore the world and advises students planning to study abroad in England. Emma can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229, ext. 4258.

beckiStudent Accounts Coordinator Becki Niccum assists with the financial side of study abroad and processes payments and invoices. Becki can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-3077.

altStudent & Parent Services Manager Donnetta Spears is available to both students and parents for travel questions and information. Donnetta has worked with IFSA-Butler since 2000, and she has traveled through parts of Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. As the mother of 4 college students (including one who studied abroad on an IFSA-Butler program), she has a deep understanding of the ins-and-outs of study abroad from a parent perspective. Donnetta can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-4252.

Once abroad, our students are in the capable hands of our on-site office, including our student services coordinator Rob Spencer.

abbyAcademic Records Coordinator Abby Miller graduated from Butler University where she worked as a guide for international students from all over the world. From that experience and combined with her own world travels, she knows the amazing experiences that studying abroad can provide. Abby is excited to work with IFSA-Butler students and to help answer any questions about their academic records. Abby can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229, ext. 4217.

Get Connected

Connect with IFSA-Butler Students

If you really want to know what it's like to study abroad, connect with IFSA-Butler alumni and students who are currently abroad on an IFSA-Butler program. Check out the following:
Student Network
Student Blogs
Experiences Abroad Videos
For Students

Institute for Study Abroad, Alliance For Global Education and MORE CULTURE. LESS SHOCK. are registered marks of the Institute for Study Abroad, Inc.