St. Lawrence University students have the opportunity to spend the fall or spring semester in Australia at James Cook University (JCU).  Students may select either the Townsville or the Cairns campus.  As Australia’s first tropical university, JCU has dedicated much of its research activities to areas relevant to life in the tropics, such as aboriginal studies, tropical medicine, tropical environmental studies, and Asian Studies. Its department of Marine Biology is world famous. In addition, the University has pioneered a higher education center for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

  • Based in Cairns or Townsville
  • Fall or Spring semester
  • Pre-requisites: A 3.0 GPA.  Applicants should have prior coursework in the subjects they intend to study on the program, and must articulate clear reasons for advanced study of these subjects in Australia. Applicants should also describe their interest in studying the peoples and cultures of Australia.
  • While on the program students are required to take at least one class focused on the peoples and cultures of Australia
  • Live in student dorms

Location     Academics     Co-curricular     Housing     

Calendar     Orientation      Program Contacts


James Cook University (JCU), named after the explorer Captain James Cook, has two campuses located in NE Australia. The larger campus in Townsville has approximately 14,500 students; the Cairns campus has about 5,000 students. As Australia's first tropical university, JCU has dedicated much of its research activities to areas relevant to life in the tropics, such as aboriginal studies, tropical medicine, tropical environmental studies, and Asian Studies. Its Department of Marine Biology is world famous. In addition, the University has pioneered a higher education center for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

James Cook University's main campus is located 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the city center of Townsville, Queensland, which is the largest city in northern Queensland. It is the business, cultural, educational, administrative and industrial center for the North Queensland region and has a diverse economy based on manufacturing, industry, tourism and transportation.

It is a major distribution center for imports and exports with trade links with Papua New Guinea, the Pacific Rim and southeast Asia. Townsville is also the home of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science. The Townsville campus is particularly appropriate for students interested in marine biology.

Many JCU subjects offered in Townsville are also offered on the Cairns campus (with the exception of marine biology). Cairns, based on the coast 4 hours north of Townsville, is a center for outdoor activities and a tourist destination for Australians and international travelers wishing to access the Great Barrier Reef and points north including Daintree rainforest and Cape Tribulation. The Cairns campus, close to the size of St. Lawrence University, is particularly appropriate for tropical ecology studies.

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Course Search at James Cook University (

Warning: Studying at James Cook University is not "SLU in an exotic location." The academic program, administrative structure and the grading more closely resemble the British university system than the American system. The subject lectures are, indeed, lectures rather than class discussions. Students are expected to progress through the semester independently. Australian universities are more vocationally-oriented than liberal arts colleges and universities in the United States. It's unusual for Australian students to take subjects outside of their course of study, so there may be scheduling challenges if you plan to take subjects from different disciplines/departments.

A list of courses at James Cook University that have been pre-approved by St. Lawrence can be found here. Please keep in mind that these are just the courses that have been preapproved, but students may enroll in other courses as well, and seek approval after they have been accepted.


course of study = major

faculty = department or school (e.g., Faculty of Arts, Education & Social Science; Faculty of Medicine, Health & Molecular Sciences; Faculty of Science, Engineering & Information Technology)

subjects = classes

Semester I or Study Period I = February through June

Semester II or Study Period 2 = July through November

Block mode = the subject, or components of the subject, meet outside the regular teaching schedule (for example, field trips on the weekend)

For more subject codes and prefix definitions please see the the link (

To view all the classes (or subjects) offered on the Townsville campus, go to the Townsville Subject Schedule. Please be mindful that Study Period I corresponds to SLU's SPRING semester and Study Period II corresponds to SLU's FALL semester.

To view all the classes (or subjects) offered on the Cairns campus, go to the Cairns Subject Schedule. The Cairns campus is particularly appropriate for tropical ecology studies.

Other helpful information:

  • All subjects must be on the Townsville or the Cairns campus. The two campuses are 4 hours apart, so it is impossible to take subjects at both campuses.
  • Students take 12 credits (three or four subjects), which must be endorsed for transfer credit prior to leaving SLU campus and approved by the appropriate department chair at JCU.
  • At least one subject must have significant Australia content.
  • Grades earned at JCU are converted to SLU grades using the standard Australian/US conversion system:

High Distinction = 4.0
Distinction = 3.75
Credit = 3.0
Pass = 2.0
Conceded Pass = 1.5
Failure = 0.0

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Students are encouraged to get involved in JCU cultural, sporting and recreational activities. Common weekend trips are Mission Beach, Cairns, Daintree Rainforest, Hinchinbrook Island, Whitsunday Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef. The JCU Office of International Affairs has a variety of excursions and programs for which students can sign up.

Students receive a stipend from St. Lawrence University a couple of weeks before they depart for Australia. The main purpose of the money is for students to travel and learn more about Australia while they are "Down Under." In the past, students have used this money to travel within Australia, to travel outside Australia (to SE Asia, New Zealand, or Bali), to become SCUBA certified, and to hike Hinchinbrook Island and Mt. Bartle Frere. The Hinchinbrook hike, which normally takes 3 - 4 days, is very popular and reservations must be made months in advance. Please note that students can explore the Great Barrier Reef by snorkeling or SCUBA diving.

A small part of this money is intended to help with the costs of "settling in," which vary from college to college. This stipend is also to be used for payment of your JCU student association membership fee upon arrival, for "settling in" costs and on-campus recreational activities.

Australian students normally use study breaks to study; therefore, SLU students should plan to do the same.

Keeping in mind that Australia is nearly as large as the continental United States and that there are long distances between destinations, students should plan to arrive early if they wish to travel throughout Australia or schedule such trips immediately after exams.

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The Townsville campus has several on-campus residential colleges and residence halls providing housing for about 1,500 students. Most of the rooms are single study/bedrooms comfortably furnished with a bed, closet, study desk, and bookshelves. Information about applying online will be distributed at the orientation meeting after you are accepted to the program.

St. Lawrence has requested that SLU students be housed in some of the centrally located colleges that provide full board with 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. It should be noted that James Cook University cannot guarantee that all SLU students will be accommodated in their first housing choice on the Townsville campus, but every effort will be made to do so.

In Cairns, there is a student accommodation building directly across the street from the Cairns campus. The Cairns Student Lodge houses up to 234 students with single study bedrooms and shared living rooms, usually 4-6 students per living room. Information about applying online will be distributed at the orientation meeting on campus.

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Please click here to find more details about the Program Calendar.

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Pre-departure: The CIIS office organizes in depth orientation sessions on-campus prior to the students' participation in the program. This includes a program specific session(s) in which the students will learn more about the program, local culture, academic expectations, and any other important information. There is also an orientation session lead by the CIIS office on culture shock, and what to expect, as well as safety and security while abroad.

On site: JCU will host orientation sessions when students arrive. JCU has a helpful link with pre-departure information for incoming students. You can get information about airport arrival service, the specific dates for the mandatory orientation meetings, and other arrival information from JCU's webpage.

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Program Contacts

If you are interested in learning more about the Australia program please contact one of the following people.

CIIS Office: Karen Smith, Assistant Director of Off-Campus Study Programs - Questions about eligibility, program logistics, and other off-campus opportunities.

Faculty CoordinatorDr. Lorraine Olendzenski - Questions about program academics.

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