Thanks to the popular television shows that dramatize the work, there’s an increased interest in the world of crime scene investigation and a larger pool of forensic science scholarships to choose from now.
Forensic science is a bit more complex than it looks on TV, but it’s a rewarding career choice for aspiring scientists looking to use their skills for justice. From laboratories and crime scenes to morgues and police departments, forensic scientists work in a variety of settings to uncover the truth about criminal activities through careful analysis. Forensic scientists play a prominent role in criminal investigations by giving their expert, unbiased opinion to judges, juries, lawyers, and law enforcement officers.
If you’re looking to make a leap into forensic science, below we’ve highlighted 20 of the best scholarships available at the undergraduate and graduate level.
1. AFTE Scholarship Program
Deadline: April 1st
Annually, the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE) hosts a scholarship program to provide $2,000 awards to outstanding college students pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, or professional degree for a career in forensic science. Qualified applicants must be enrolled at least half-time, have a declared major in the natural or biological sciences, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, have earned junior-level status or above, and intend to become a forensic scientist. Preference will be given to any candidates who are working on a project specifically related to firearm or tool mark examination.
2. American Chemical Society Scholars Program
Deadline: March 1st
For the past 20 years, the American Chemistry Society (ACS) has offered a Scholars Program to grant up to $5,000 annually to underrepresented minority students who are pursuing a college degree in chemistry, forensic chemistry, toxicology, or chemical technology. Eligible African American, American Indian, and Hispanic/Latino applicants must be U.S. citizens, be enrolled full-time at an accredited college, have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, and be planning a career in any chemical-related science, including forensics. Applications must include an official transcript, ACT/SAT scores, two letters of recommendation, and proof of financial need.
3. ASCLD Annual Scholarship Awards
Deadline: April 15th
Through the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD), annual scholarship awards are distributed for $1,000 to junior, senior, and graduate students who are currently pursuing a college degree in forensic science, forensic chemistry, or closely related physical and natural sciences. Qualified bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree students must be attending an accredited U.S. institution, enroll in a program approved by the FEPAC, and be supported by a recommendation from a faculty member or lab director. Selection will be based on applicants’ scholastic records, personal statements, recommendations, and demonstrated motivation for entering forensic science careers.
ASCLD Annual Scholarship Awards
139A Technology Drive
Garner, NC 27529
4. Ellis R. Kerley Forensic Sciences Scholarship
Deadline: April 30th
In honor of the pioneering forensic anthropologist who devised a precise way to positively identify the remains of bones with the Kerley Method, the Ellis R. Kerley Forensic Sciences Scholarship is awarded annually for up to $2,500 to encourage talented students to expand their capacity for making a difference in forensic anthropology. Applicants must be enrolled in a graduate program leading to a master’s or doctoral degree, be sponsored by a ABFA member, and have student membership with the AAFS. Online applications must be accompanied by an official transcript, a letter of reference, and a two-page essay describing candidates’ goals in forensic anthropology.
Ellis R. Kerley Forensic Sciences Scholarship
11275 Highway 98 West Suite 6
Miramar Beach, FL 32550
5. Emily R. Murphy Graduate Scholarship
Deadline: February 15th
At Virginia Commonwealth University, the Department of Forensic Science has created the Emily R. Murphy Graduate Scholarship to honor a vibrant young student who was dedicated to becoming a forensic scientist before losing her life tragically in a car accident at the youthful age of 22 in Washington, DC. Eligible applicants must be currently enrolled full-time as graduate students in the M.S. in Forensic Science program, show strong academic merit, and write a 500-word essay discussing their potential for leadership in forensic science. Recipients will be chosen each spring based on their academic performance, dedication, and initiative.
Emily R. Murphy Graduate Scholarship
1015 Floyd Avenue Room 2015
Richmond, VA 23284
6. Floyd E. McDonald Scholarship Fund
Deadline: April 1st
Sponsored by the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (SWAFS), the Floyd E. McDonald Scholarship Fund offers one $1,000 award annually to junior or senior-level undergraduate students who are currently pursuing a career in the forensic sciences with a chemistry, biology, or natural science major. Qualified candidates must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree, attend an accredited university in the United States, carry at least six semester hours per term, and maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. Interested students can apply by submitting a completed application form with three recommendation letters and an official college transcript.
7. Gary Boccia Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: May 30th
At the CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the Gary Boccia Memorial Scholarship is awarded each fall for $500 to a full-time or part-time undergraduate student currently enrolled in the college’s forensic science degree program. Qualified recipients must have achieved junior or senior-level status, have completed at least 60 credit hours, carry a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and be currently enrolled in an internship at an accredited forensic science laboratory. In addition to the college’s general scholarship application, candidates must write a 500-word essay covering their future aspirations in forensic science.
8. George H. Robinson Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: October 1st
Administered through the Chesapeake Bay Division of the International Association for Identification (CBD-IAI), the George H. Robinson Memorial Scholarship is presented annually for $500 to five outstanding college students who have declared a major in forensic science or a closely related criminal justice field. Eligible candidates must be enrolled full-time at an accredited four-year university, have at least sophomore-level standing, be taking forensic science coursework, and maintain a minimum overall GPA of 2.5. Applicants are required to attach official college transcripts, two letters of reference, a signed academic advisor form, and a short biographical sketch.
George H. Robinson Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 224
Broad Run, VA 20137
9. IAFN Foundation Nevada Scholarship
Through the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) Foundation, a total of $5,000 in granted annually to provide scholarships for nine to 10 nurses in Nevada who are looking to expand their forensic science education to build the skills needed to provide forensic patient care. Eligible applicants must have a valid RN license, reside in the state of Nevada, have a desire to provide forensic nursing care, and complete an online application form. Scholarships can be used to cover tuition for the Online Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner course, the Online Clinical Forensic Evaluation of Gunshot Wounds course, or the 2015 International Conference on Forensic Nursing Science and Practice.
10. J. Edgar Hoover Scientific Scholarship
Deadline: April 6th
In honor of the creator of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the father of modern law enforcement in America, the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation has created a Scientific Scholarship to grant $25,000 to an exemplary college student pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in forensic science to start a career in federal law enforcement. Applicants must have at least junior-level status, have a major relevant to criminal investigation, be U.S. citizens, and exemplify Hoover’s commitment to justice. Along with the application, students must provide an official transcript documenting academic achievement and two letters of recommendation.
11. Johnson-Whyte Memorial Scholarships
Deadline: May 1st
As the world’s largest forensic science association, the International Association for Identification (IAI) proudly hosts the Johnson-Whyte Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide annual awards to junior, senior, or graduate students currently pursuing a degree in forensic science. Qualified applicants must be enrolled full-time at a CHEA-accredited university, have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, exhibit financial need, and be seeking future employment in the forensic identification field. Selection will be strongly based on candidates’ academic record, previous forensic work experience, recommendations, personal character, career goals, and professional potential in forensic identification.
Johnson-Whyte Memorial Scholarships
2131 Hollywood Blvd. Suite 403
Hollywood, FL 33020
12. Mike Byrd Science Scholarship
Deadline: May 1st
In the amount of $1,000 each year, the Mike Byrd Science Scholarship is awarded through the Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT) to graduating high school seniors or full-time college students from Miami-Dade, Broward, or Monroe counties in Florida who are pursuing a scientific career in crime scene investigation. Eligible applicants must be the sons or daughters of sworn law enforcement officers within Miami-Dade County, be planning to declare a major in forensic science or pathology, currently maintain a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, and show achievement in the sciences of criminal investigation. Applications must be accompanied by a certified transcript, proof of college enrollment, and two letters of recommendation.
13. NEAFS Scholarship Program
Deadline: April 30th
Since its inception in 1976, the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists (NEAFS) has hosted a yearly scholarship program to provide $1,000 to currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate students who are pursuing an accredited degree in forensic science. Qualified candidates must have at least junior-level status with good academic standing at a four-year institution in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or New Jersey. Along with the completed application form, candidates will be asked to supply two letters of recommendation from forensic science faculty members and a 500-word letter outlining their career objectives.
14. NJAFS Forensic Sciences Scholarship
Deadline: October 31st
Each year, the New Jersey Association of Forensic Scientists (NJAFS) distributes $1,000 one-time scholarships for college students enrolled in a forensic science, natural science, chemistry, or biology degree program with the clear intent to pursue a career in the forensic science. Eligible applicants must be current members, reside within New Jersey, be attending an accredited post-secondary institution either in-state or out-of-state, have attained at least junior-level status, and demonstrate academic excellence with a minimum GPA of 3.0. With the application form, candidates must submit all college transcripts, two recommendation forms, and a short personal essay describing what they’ll bring to the forensic sciences field.
NJAFS Forensic Sciences Scholarship
P.O. Box 9304
Trenton, NJ 08650
15. Nuclear Forensics Undergraduate Scholarship
Deadline: February 2nd
Administered through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Nuclear Forensics Undergraduate Scholarship Program provides a $10,000 stipend annually to worthy upper-division undergraduate students who are pursuing degrees in forensic science, physics, chemistry, nuclear engineering, or materials science. Applicants must be enrolled full-time in an accredited institution, have U.S. citizenship, and exhibit a clear dedication for entering a career in the nuclear forensics community upon graduation. Recipients will be invited to complete a summer research program for nine to 12 weeks at the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office to participate in their own nuclear forensics mission.
16. Sandy Jeffers Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: October 4th
At the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, the Sandy Jeffers Memorial Scholarship has been awarded annually since 2003 to provide at least $500 to currently enrolled undergraduate students who are studying historical or forensic anthropology within the Department of Anthropology. For consideration, interested students must submit a completed application form with a thorough academic history, financial budgeting plan, and letter of intent indicating their interests related to the anthropology field. Recipients will be selecting solely on the basis of academic achievement, financial need, and commitment to historical or forensic anthropology.
17. Sigrid and Cyril Wecht Forensic Science Scholarship
In honor of the former Director of the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University, the Sigrid and Cyril Wecht Forensic Science Scholarship is presented annually for $1,000 to new or currently enrolled students pursuing a degree within the Institute. Aspiring forensic scientists and administrators must be enrolling full-time in the Master’s in Forensic Science, Master of Science in Nursing for Forensic Nursing, or Post-Master’s Certificate in Forensic Science to qualify. Selection will be made based on applicants’ academic achievement, financial need, recommendations, and clear commitment to social justice.
18. SOFT Educational Research Awards
Deadline: April 3rd
Annually, the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT) offers the Educational Research Awards (ERA) to provide $2,000 to graduate students currently enrolled in a master’s, pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, or medical residency academic program related to forensic toxicology. Applicants must be attending an accredited U.S. graduate or professional school, be completing a research project in forensic toxicology, have outstanding academic standing, exhibit financial need, and plan to pursue a career as a forensic toxicologist. Awardees will also receive an expense-paid trip to the SOFT Annual Meeting to present their toxicological research findings.
SOFT Educational Research Awards
1 North MacDonald Street Suite 15
Mesa, AZ 85201
19. William A. Snare Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: February 1st
With the goal of encouraging the growth of scientific forensic identification, the California State Division of the International Association for Identification (CSD-IAI) has created the William A. Snare Memorial Scholarship to award $500 annually to full-time college students seeking a career in forensic identification. Qualified candidates must reside in California or Nevada, have a declared major in forensic science or public safety, have achieved at least junior standing, be enrolled in an accredited four-year bachelor’s degree program, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, be active CSD-IAI members in good standing, and have law enforcement experience.
William A. Snare Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 10
Roseville, CA 95678
20. William R. Maples Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: February 1st
First founded in 1997 at the University of Florida to honor his years of hard work in teaching and mentoring future forensic anthropologists, the William R. Maples Memorial Scholarship is granted annually for $500 to four extraordinary graduate-level students who are currently enrolled in the university’s doctoral forensic anthropology program. Qualified applicants must be conducting pre-dissertation or dissertation research in forensic anthropology, show excellent research design skills, be in good academic standing, and exhibit a potential for significant contribution to the field of forensic anthropology upon completion.
William R. Maples Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 117205
Gainesville, FL 32611
Due to the detailed scientific approach that must be utilized to collect and analyze physical evidence from crime scenes, it’s no surprise that forensic scientists typically need to have at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree to begin. Therefore, you’ll likely need to take advantage of multiple sources for financial aid to finance your four to six years of post-secondary education. Consider applying to these great forensic science scholarships to receive the funding you’ll need for learning how to assess crucial crime evidence to lock away criminals.