James Cook University (JCU) is a public university in North Queensland, Australia. The second oldest university in Queensland, JCU is a teaching and research institution. The university's main campuses are located in the tropical cities of Cairns and Townsville, and one in the city-state of Singapore. JCU also has study centers in Mount Isa, Mackay and Thursday Island. A Brisbane campus, operated by Russo Higher Education, delivers undergraduate and postgraduate courses to international students. The University’s main fields of research include marine sciences, biodiversity, sustainable management of tropical ecosystems, genetics and genomics, tropical health care, tourism and engineering.

In 1957, Professor John Douglas Story, Vice Chancellor of the University of Queensland proposed a regional university college be established to cater to the people of North Queensland. At that time, the only higher education providers were located in the state capital, Brisbane. On 27 February 1961, the University College of Townsville was opened. After being proclaimed on 20 April 1970 as an Act of Queensland Parliament, the University College of Townsville became James Cook University of North Queensland on 29 April 1970.

 The official opening of the university was conducted by Queen Elizabeth II.The namesake is British sea captain James Cook, who is best known for being the first European to explore the eastern coast of Australia. A year after JCU's proclamation, Cyclone Althea struck the Townsville region. This, together with the destruction caused by Cyclone Tracy in Darwin 1974, prompted the establishment of a cyclone research facility

On 1 January 1982, JCU amalgamated with The Townsville College of Advanced Education located adjacent to the main campus in Douglas. The university established a presence in Cairns in 1987 and moved to its current location in the suburb of Smithfield in 1995. On 1 January 1991, the School of Art and Design of the Townsville College of TAFE was transferred to JCU. The current name of James Cook University became official on 1 January 1998. In 2003 the University opened an international campus in Singapore. The university further expanded its presence by establishing another campus in Brisbane, Queensland in 2006.