Which USAC Australia Program is Best for You?

Friendly people, endless beaches, and a language you can understand are just a few of the reasons you may be considering studying abroad in Australia.

The land Down Under is one of the most popular study abroad destinations, so all that’s left for you to decide is which USAC Australia program is the right fit for you. The Gold Coast/Brisbane and Melbourne/Waurrnambool programs offer different experiences, locations in Australia, and study abroad terms, so no matter what you’re looking for, one of these will fit the bill.

Gold Coast/Brisbane

Students swimming in the Great Barrier Reef during study abroad in Gold Coast, Australia
Students swimming in the Great Barrier Reef during study abroad in Gold Coast, Australia


Located along the east coast of Australia (same side of the country as Sydney), the Gold Coast program is near Brisbane and the ideal location if you love sunshine, the outdoors, and the beach. The sun shines year-round, and the average temperature is usually in the 80s. The weather is so warmly consistent that the university you’ll attend has an outdoor pool that doesn’t even have a cover. Just don’t forget that seasons in Australia are opposite of those in the U.S., so if you’re looking to head abroad during summertime, you’ll want to be in Australia during the U.S. winter.

In addition to the beaches, you’ll have no problem experiencing the Aussie lifestyle with good food, friendly locals, shopping, adventures, and a lively town. When it comes to the Gold Coast the cost of living is cheap and the opportunities are abundant. Students can easily get a part-time job (that pays well) and enjoy exploring the Australian coast.

Kayaking on the Brisbane river is an activity that study abroad students can participate in during a study abroad in the Gold Coast
Kayaking down the Brisbane River


Griffith University has more than 43,000 students, including 10,000 international students. Several times, it’s been ranked as a top-ten Australian research university.

Your academics at Griffith University can take you into a variety of areas of study but some that they’re known for are hospitality, criminology, and law. The school is also a leader in environmental science, international business, Asian studies, sport management, exercise science and nutrition, visual and creative arts, engineering and more.

There are four Griffith campuses you can choose to take classes at; Gold Coast, South Bank, Nathan and Mt. Gravatt. The distances between Brisbane and Gold Coast make studying at more than one of these location nearly impossible, but if you choose Mt. Gravatt or Nathan campus you can take classes at both because the campuses are right across the street from each other.

Gold Coast Campus

The Gold Coast campus is dynamic and modern, and spread over 65 acres of native bushland less than an hour from Brisbane. Over 17,000 students study Arts and Language, Business, Communication, Computing and Information Technology, Design Studies, Education, Environmental and Applied Science, Engineering, Exercise Science, Health Science, Law, Nursing, Psychology, Tourism and Hotel Management, and Visual and Performing Arts.

Mt. Gravatt Campus in Brisbane

The Mt. Gravatt campus is at the top of a hill with beautiful views. It’s less than 15 minutes by bus from the city center of Brisbane and “across the road” from the Nathan campus. A specialty campus, Mt Gravatt offers Psychology, Teacher Education, and Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Nathan Campus in Brisbane

The Nathan campus—the original Griffith University site—is set on 430 acres of bushland in the Toohey Forest complete with lizards and naughty kookaburras. It offers a new campus center and bookstore. It is a 10- to 15-minute drive from Brisbane. The Nathan campus is a comprehensive campus and offers Arts and Languages, Business, Communication, Computing and Information Technology, Environmental and Applied Science, Engineering, Law, and Tourism and Hotel Management.

South Bank Campus in Brisbane

At the southern end of the South Bank Parklands, across the river from the Brisbane city center, is Griffith University’s Queensland College of Art. Located in the cultural heart of the city, it’s a short walk to the Brisbane River and you can access the campus easily by public transport. Over 1,500 students study at this campus.

Griffith University located in the Gold Coast is home to study abroad students who study abroad through USAC
Griffith University campus

Cultural Immersion

During your time at Griffith University you can participate in the Griffith Mates program where you’ll be connected to a local student that takes you on city tours, to game and trivia nights, and local sporting events. With more than 80 clubs and societies on campus you’ll never run out of ways to meet other students. You can also opt to partake in a variety of “getaway” trips including the Discovery Byron Bay tour.

Student feeds a kangaroo during study abroad in Gold Coast Australia
Feeding the Kangaroos

Study Abroad Terms

As you may already realize, Australian terms differ from those in the U.S. due to seasonal differences. In the Gold Coast, you may participate in one or two trimesters, one running from February-June, another running from July-October.




Melbourne is located in the state of Victoria and offers your typical big city feel with lots of diversity, culture, entertainment and people with an added flare you can only get in Australia. You’ll experience a gourmet food scene, elaborate shopping centers, rowdy sporting events, and an unsurpassed street art scene.

Melbourne has embraced street art and walking the “laneways” of the city is an iconic way to spend your time. You’ll catch artworks from the likes of Banksy and other famous street artists in approved locations throughout the city.

Public transportation can get you anywhere you need to go, with free rides offered within certain city limits. If you need to escape the city you can easily hit the road, the famous Great Ocean Road, to discover the Twelve Apostles, famous surf beaches, rainforests, volcanic plains and access to Australian islands.

Students in downtown Melbourne during study abroad with USAC
Students hanging out in Downtown Melbourne


Located on Victoria’s rugged Shipwreck Coast at the western end of the stunning Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool (pop. 30,000) is a thriving and independent modern city—the fifth largest in the state. Three hours from Melbourne by car or train, the resident population doubles in summer (December to February), when visitors on holiday arrive to enjoy the nightlife, the fishing, and miles and miles of deserted surf beaches. It is a great place for whale watching, visiting wildlife reserves, forests, farms, waterfalls, and one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline in the world. Warrnambool offers a truly unique opportunity for students wanting to experience the “real” Australia.


When you study abroad in Victoria, you’ll attend Deakin University, a diverse institution serving more than 30,000 students that has a distinct atmosphere and strong sense of community.

You’ll choose between a campus near Melbourne or Warrnambool and you’ll live and study in that location.

Melbourne Campus

Melbourne campus is a thriving hub of student activity for over 18,000 students. The campus landscaping brings life, movement, and color to complement the award-winning modern architecture and facilities. The main feature of the campus is a courtyard with a spectacular water sculpture and amphitheater, often used for concerts and outdoor meetings. It’s also host to the Deakin University Art Gallery. If you are into the contemporary arts (dance, drama, photography, film, and visual arts) then this is a great place for you. A full range of arts, sciences, health, education, and business courses are also available.

Warrnambool Campus

Deakin’s Warrnambool campus is a modern campus set on the banks of the Hopkins River, which makes it an ideal location to study marine science and any water-based study as it has some of the highest biological diversity in Australia. A full range of arts, sciences, education, and business courses are also available. A nine-hole golf course, tennis and squash courts, football, and gymnasium all are located on campus.

Students on campus at Deakin University
Deakin University

Cultural Immersion

USAC students are completely integrated, making it possible to participate in university- and community-organized activities in Melbourne or Warrnambool. At the university, activities include playing with the sports teams, participating in the performing arts, or joining one of the many student clubs. Local associations offer sports activities such as surfing, sailing, Australian Rules Football, snow skiing, golfing, or hiking in the bush. The DUSA (Deakin University Student Association) at all campuses offers subsidized day, weekend, and mid-semester trips to explore different regions of Australia. Past trips have included dolphin swims, horseback riding, and Great Ocean Road trips. Some of the activities and events that are held each year include band competitions, parties, balls, free food days, exam breakfasts, concerts, and lots lots more. For local activities, you will want to be sure to get on the “What’s on?” for Melbourne, or “the Bool” to keep up with all the events.

Students exploring the Great Ocean Road during study abroad in Melbourne, Australia
Exploring the Great Ocean Road

Study Abroad Term

In Melbourne/Warrnambool you may participate in one or two trimesters. One running from March-June and the second running from July-October.

If you’re short on time the Melbourne program is also offered for a 3-week January session.

You can’t go wrong when you decide to study abroad in Australia. No matter where you choose, you’ll have plenty of time with locals and enjoying the Australian landscape and culture. But if you’re looking for that beach town feel, then consider the Gold Coast/Brisbane and if you’re wanting more of a city life, then check out the Melbourne area. See you in Australia, mate!