Whether you're aiming to become a police officer, border patrol agent, lawyer, judge, probation officer, FBI agent, or any other contributing member of our judicial system, criminal justice scholarships can go a long way towards achieving your career goals. Many organizations and universities nationwide offer scholarship funding to help students finance their training for becoming the next Johnnie Cochran or J. Edgar Hoover.
Criminal justice degrees are smart investments for any students looking to work in law enforcement, criminology, crime scene investigation, security, or law to keep our nation's communities safer. If you're ready to take the exciting leap into a career in criminal justice, below we've highlighted 20 of the best scholarships available for paying your tuition bills.
1. ACJS Student Scholarship Awards
Deadline: October 1st
Through the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences' Student Affairs Committee, the ACJS Student Scholarship Awards are granted annually for $600 apiece to two graduate students who are pursuing a master's or Ph.D. degree in criminal justice and/or criminology. The awards are designed to support meritorious scholarship among advanced students and allow them to present their research findings at the ACJS Annual Meeting. Nominations should include a letter of nomination, a scholarly research paper, proof of current enrollment, evidence that students are attending the Annual Meeting, and other letters of support.
2. Anderson Criminal Justice Scholarship
Deadline: March 10th
Sponsored by the Washington State Fair, the Anderson Criminal Justice Scholarship is awarded each year for $5,000 to provide financial assistance to graduating high school seniors or adult learners who are pursuing career goals in the criminal justice field. Eligible applicants must be residents of Washington State, be attending an in-state accredited institution, have declared a major in criminal justice, maintain full-time enrollment, show good academic standing on unofficial transcripts, and supply two original letters of recommendation. Preference will be given to criminal justice students who are working towards a career in law enforcement.
3. ASC Graduate Fellowships for Ethnic Minorities
Deadline: March 1st
Established in 1988 by the American Society of Criminology (ASC), the Graduate Fellowships for Ethnic Minorities grant $6,000 annually to three students of color who are seeking to enter the field of criminology and criminal justice. Qualified African American, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Alaskan Native candidates must be pursuing a doctoral degree studying criminal justice issues, be attending accredited U.S. graduate schools, and demonstrate a commitment to a career in criminology. Applications must include proof of admission, a current curriculum vitae, official college transcripts, financial aid reports, three letters of reference, and a personal essay.
ASC Graduate Fellowships for Ethnic Minorities
1314 Kinnear Road Suite 212
Columbus, OH 43212
4. Brian Terry Foundation Scholarship Program
Deadline: May 31st
In memory of a fallen U.S. Border Patrol Agent who was killed by a Mexican drug cartel, the Brian Terry Foundation hosts an annual scholarship program to college students intending to study criminal justice or a closely related field to pursue a career in law enforcement. Qualified applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program, be U.S. citizens, maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and attend an accredited post-secondary institution. Along with the application, candidates should submit two recommendation forms, an official transcript, two self-addressed stamped envelopes, and a personal essay describing their commitment to social justice.
5. Bruce C. Bade Scholarship Fund
Deadline: March 10th
Within the Blackford County Community Foundation, the Bruce C. Bade Scholarship Fund was created to honor the former Blackford County Circuit Court judge who served until 2009. In order to qualify for one of the annual scholarship awards ranging in value from $500 to $5,000, applicants must be graduating high school seniors, reside in Blackford County, plan to pursue post-secondary education at an accredited Indiana institution, be declaring a major in criminal justice or law, and exhibit financial need for assistance. Applications must be accompanied by a high school transcript, student aid reports, and an appraisal by an authorized school official.
6. Charles L. Gittens Memorial Scholarship Award
Deadline: April 15th
Administered by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), the Charles L. Gittens Memorial Scholarship Award is presented each year for $1,000 to an African American graduating high school senior who is interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice or law enforcement. Qualified candidates must be accepted to an accredited post-secondary institution, be U.S. citizens, intend to pursue a degree in any criminal investigative studies, exhibit financial need, and carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.7. Applications should include an official school transcript, two recommendations, and a one-page essay stating career goals.
7. Dan Sprehe Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: September 1st
Through the Greater Chicago Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the Dan Sprehe Memorial Scholarship is awarded in honor of a tireless crusader against fraud and corruption who passed away at the youthful age of 32. Eligible candidates must be currently enrolled full-time at an accredited four-year college in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs with a declared major in accounting, finance, criminal justice, or business to enter a career in fraud examination. Up to 10 recipients will be chosen annually to receive a scholarship that covers the full costs of ACFE prep courses and the CFE exam.
8. Edna R. Anthony Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: March 31st
Annually, the Women of BECA Inc. offer the Edna R. Anthony Memorial Scholarship to grant $500 awards to three outstanding female graduating high school seniors of color who are determined to receive a degree in criminal justice, journalism, nursing, or healthcare. Eligible applicants must be currently accepted for enrollment at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the United States, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, and exhibit financial need. Along with the completed application and high school transcript, candidates must write a 1,000-word essay describing why they've chosen their career path.
9. Kush Arora Federal Criminal Justice Reform Scholarship
Deadline: May 1st
Offered by the Maryland Criminal Lawyers in honor of a dedicated federal criminal defense attorney, the Kush Arora Federal Criminal Justice Reform Scholarship is awarded for $500 annually to undergraduate, graduate, and law school students pursuing work in the criminal justice system. All applicants must be enrolled in accredited U.S. institutions, be in good academic standing with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, and have a declared major related to criminal justice or law. Applications must be accompanied by a current academic transcript and a 1,000-word essay presenting a logical argument defending or critiquing the criminalization of drug possession.
10. Lambda Alpha Epsilon Student Scholarships
Deadline: December 31st
In collaboration with the American Criminal Justice Association (ACJA), the Lambda Alpha Epsilon Student Scholarships are distributed annually for undergraduate and graduate students who are currently enrolled in a course of study in the criminal justice field. To qualify, applicants must be U.S. citizens, be active members of an ACJA/LAE chapter, have completed at least two semesters of accredited college coursework, maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, have full-time status, and have a declared major in criminal justice. Selection will be based on candidates' academic record, financial need, recommendations, and stated career objectives.
11. Master Corporal Ronald G. Williams Jr. Scholarship
Deadline: May 31st
Formed in memory of a Delaware State Police Master Corporal, the Ronald G. Williams Jr. Scholarship is granted annually for $1,000 to cut tuition costs of full-time post-secondary education for graduating high school seniors from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Qualified students must be majoring in criminal justice, be accepted for enrollment in an accredited U.S. institution, carry a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, and show a strong commitment towards pursuing a career as a law enforcement officer. Completed application packets must include a high school transcript, three reference letters, and a 500-word personal essay.
Master Corporal Ronald G. Williams Jr. Scholarship
P.O. Box 5811
Wilmington, DE 19808
12. Maurice B. Cohill Jr. Young Investigator Award
Deadline: May 1st
In honor of a former juvenile court judge, the Maurice B. Cohill Jr. Young Investigator Award is bestowed annually for $500 upon four high school juniors and seniors who have conducted research related to juvenile law and public policy, juvenile courts and probation, juvenile delinquency and dependency, or juvenile crime. Applicants must be U.S. residents, plan to attend an accredited American college upon graduation, and show a career interest in juvenile criminal justice. Recipients will also receive a prestigious letter of commendation from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ).
13. My Alarm Center Student Scholarships
Deadline: July 1st
Ranging in value from $500 to $1,000, the My Alarm Center Student Scholarships are awarded annually for three outstanding undergraduate students who are currently studying law enforcement, criminal justice, law, or another closely related field to make our neighborhoods a safer place. Applicants must be freshmen or sophomores in college, be attending an accredited U.S. institution, have good academic standing, and have a strong commitment to criminal justice. For consideration, qualified candidates must submit a 1,000-word essay in a Word document describing what they hope to achieve from a security-related career.
14. Paul Janosky Criminal Justice Scholarship
Deadline: May 1st
Established by the Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT), the Paul Janosky Criminal Justice Scholarship is designed to provide a one-time award for $1,000 to a graduating high school senior or full-time college student from Miami-Dade, Broward, or Monroe counties in Florida. Eligible applicants must be the sons or daughters of a sworn law enforcement officer within Miami-Dade County, be planning to major in criminal justice or public safety at an accredited college, and maintain a minimum overall GPA of 2.5. Candidates will be required to complete a scholarship application, attach current certified transcripts, and supply two letters of recommendation.
15. Regina B. Shearn Scholarship
Deadline: January 31st
As the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, Alpha Phi Sigma has created the Regina B. Shearn Scholarship in honor of the first Executive Director to award $1,500 annually to one undergraduate and one graduate student member currently pursuing a degree in criminal justice at an accredited U.S. institution. Applicants must submit a recent transcript signed by their chapter advisor, a current resume outlining their leadership experience, and a five-page personal statement exploring their educational perspectives and purposes. Recipients will be chosen based on their academic performance, leadership abilities, involvement in community service, recommendations, citizenship, and moral character.
16. Riley Burnell Criminal Justice Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: January 15th
In memory of a motivated police officer for the International Falls Police Department who was killed when a distracted driver crossed the center line and hit his car head on, the Rile Burnell Criminal Justice Memorial Scholarship is awarded for $2,500 annually through the Duluth Superior Area (DSA) Community Foundation. Qualified applicants must reside in Koochiching County, be attending college to obtain a four-year degree, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, and show a clear interest in pursuing a career within the criminal justice system. Preference will be given to candidates seeking to become law enforcement officers like Burnell.
17. Robert "Bobby" Deckard Memorial Scholarship
Within the SAISD Foundation, the Robert "Bobby" Deckard Memorial Scholarship was created to provide $1,000 to students graduating from Highlands High School who are involved in the Police Explorers program and wish to continue their studies in post-secondary education with a criminal justice major. Eligible candidates must be actively involved in extra-curricular activities, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, complete at least 20 hours of community service, and exhibit a clear commitment to pursuing a career in criminal justice to protect the city of San Antonio like Deckard. Applications must include official high school transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a short personal statement.
18. Thurgood Marshall NABCJ Scholarship Award
Deadline: March 25th
Sponsored by the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ), the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Award is offered for $2,000 annually to a deserving undergraduate minority student planning to earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a closely related field in the upcoming fall. Eligible applicants must be accepted into an accredited four-year institution, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, and demonstrate financial need based on hardship or lack of opportunity. Candidates must submit an application will an official transcript, proof of college admissions, family income tax forms, documentation of community service, and a 1,000-word explaining their reasons for pursuing a career in criminal justice.
Thurgood Marshall NABCJ Scholarship Award
1801 Fayetteville Street Suite 106
Durham, NC 27707
19. Virginia Sheriffs' Institute Scholarships
Deadline: May 1st
Each year, the Virginia Sheriffs' Institute offers several scholarships for at least $1,000 apiece to young people statewide who need financial assistance to advance their educational endeavors in the criminal justice field. Qualified candidates must live in a locality led by a member sheriff, have a declared major in criminal justice, be attending a Virginia college full-time, and display potential for a career in law enforcement. All applications must include high school or college transcripts, proof of university enrollment, SAT/ACT scores, a letter of recommendation from a local sheriff, and a personal essay.
20. WIFLE Annual Scholarship Program
Deadline: May 1st
First introduced in 2009, the Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) Annual Scholarship Program is designed to award $1,500 to a regular or associate member who is planning to physically attend an accredited four-year college or university full-time with a major in criminal justice, public administration, or another closely related social science. To qualify, candidates must have completed at least one full academic year, carry a minimum GPA of 3.0, be actively involved in community service projects, be U.S. citizens, and be sponsored by a police official. Preference will be given to any applicants who are currently serving or have served an internship with a federal law enforcement agency.
While the price tag for higher education may be hefty, the knowledge and skills acquired with a criminal justice degree are priceless for successfully entering this field. If you're struggling to find the money to finance your education out of pocket, be resourceful by applying to some of these great criminal justice scholarships and turning your passion for justice into a rewarding career.