About the Region

Northern Queensland is well known for embracing a relaxed tropical lifestyle. The cities of Townsville and Cairns, where JCU's main campuses are located, are popular destinations for visitors with modern facilities and vibrant, multicultural populations not usually found outside of capital cities with Indigenous, European and Asian communities. Of course, the Great Barrier Reef, ancient rainforests and tropical beaches are all there to explore. The outback is just as accessible and provides opportunities to experience the Australia of legend.

The Program

HWS offers an exchange program at James Cook University, a large research university, ranked among the best in Australia. JCU is spread over three campuses in northern Queensland, with most students studying in either Townsville or Cairns. Townsville is the administrative hub for northern Queensland and a stepping off point for the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is a coastal city in the rainforest region. With many international students studying at JCU, you will experience a unique international and cross-cultural learning environment on either campus, sharing the community with students from more than 100 countries. This exchange program is designed to provide students in the sciences with the opportunity for rigorous study in a full-immersion context. Note: this program runs on a “southern hemisphere” calendar, meaning July—November for fall and February—July for spring.


HWS students will take four courses at JCU, chosen from an extensive range of subject areas within all or any of the sciences, with opportunities for electives in other areas of study. As a major research university known for its field and laboratory facilities, the curriculum serves students in the sciences particularly well (note: priority will be given to students whose academic needs can’t be met in the Queensland, Australia program.) JCU is a large university and students will often enroll in classes that have 100-200 students. The faculty assume that students are independent learners and while they are accessible to students needing assistance, the onus is on the student to seek help when appropriate. Grading standards are rigorous and tend to weigh heavily on one or two exams rather than being distributed over a larger number of small assignments. Click here for more information.

Academic Focus

This program is intended for students in the sciences, particularly those whose academic needs can’t be met in the Queensland, Australia program.


This program is open to all juniors and seniors majoring in one of the sciences in good academic and social standing with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Exchange opportunities depend on the availability of slots at the host institution and often are limited to just one or two per semester. Due to the challenging nature of study abroad, student academic and disciplinary records will be carefully screened.


Students live in residence halls on campus in Townsville, or adjacent to campus in Cairns, usually with other international students. In most residences, students have their own bedroom in a 2 to 4-bedroom self-contained apartment. Students cook for themselves in the shared kitchen and/or eat at one of the many campus cafeterias. Campus residences have phones and internet access (although there is a fee). Check out this link to see the different residence hall options.


The Townsville/Cairns program is not a “study abroad program” in the traditional sense. While there will not be excursions throughout the semester designed specifically for HWS students, there will be a week-long orientation for arriving students. A wide range of activities and tours will be included where you will get to know fellow students and become familiar with the campus and with the region. The university also offers a mentoring program, pairing new exchange students with current students so that you can ask questions before you arrive, and then meet in person when you get to Australia. Students are encouraged to seek out opportunities to immerse themselves in campus life and the local culture, including campus clubs (whether religious, academic, sporting, arts-related or other special interest clubs and societies), taking part in community service and participating in campus events and activities. You will have plenty of opportunities for independent travel both regionally and within Australia during weekends and breaks. Note that some classes include a field component for an additional fee. HWS students may take up to 2 classes with fee-based field components at no additional charge ($500 maximum).

Going Abroad With the CGE

Students will be charged standard HWS tuition and fees and a $600 administrative fee. This will cover tuition for a fourcourse semester, health insurance and the orientation program. Note that no room or board charge is included. Students will pay room fees directly to James Cook University and should plan to bring their board fee to cover meal expenses. Room fees will depend on the residence hall students choose, but most residences will cost from $2700—$3100 for the semester. While food expenses will vary according to individual tastes, we estimate that about $2100—$2300 should be sufficient for students who prepare their own meals. Additional expenses not covered include airfare, books, visa, a local transit pass and personal expenses (laundry, entertainment, and independent travel). We estimate airfare for this program at $2000-$2300 from the East Coast, books at $300, and visa at $600. It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of personal expenses because student spending habits differ considerably. We would suggest a minimum of $1500 above and beyond room and board expenses. However, students on a tight budget should be able to manage with less and part-time employment is an option for those who would like to work. If you are concerned about finances, we strongly encourage you to talk to the CGE staff who can offer information and advice based on your specific situation.


  • This program is offered every semester.
  • Applications are available at the Center for Global Education.
  • Applications are due at the CGE office at a selected date in October (for Fall programs) and March (for Spring programs). For specific dates contact the CGE.

NOTE: This information is subject to change. Please see the CGE for more information.



Hobart and William Smith Colleges,
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

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