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
Each year, the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE) awards $2,000 to students interested in forensic science. These scholarships last one year, and are awarded the September after the application deadline. Students need to make satisfactory progress toward graduation to receive these scholarships, and must reapply each year to continue receiving their scholarships. These awards can be put toward any bachelor's, master's, doctoral, or professional program in forensic science in which the student is enrolled at least half time. AFTE gives preference to students pursuing firearm or tool mark examination as a specialization or research project.
2. American Chemical Society Scholars Program
Deadline: March 1st
The American Chemical Society (ACS) provides nearly $1 million each year to approximately 350 students through its ACS Scholars Program, with individual recipients receiving as much as $5,000. These awards go to students from underrepresented backgrounds pursuing a degree in chemistry or a related field, such as forensic chemistry, toxicology, or chemical technology. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and enrolled full-time at an accredited institution. They must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0, and be on track to enter a career in a chemical-related science field. Applicants must provide an official transcript, letters of recommendation, proof of need, and college entrance exam scores.
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
The Ellis R. Kerley Forensic Sciences Foundation awards at least one scholarship per year to a qualified student in physical anthropology or forensic anthropology. To be eligible, a student must be in a master's or doctoral program in either of these fields at a school with at least one American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA) diplomate or American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) fellow on the faculty. Students must submit an application and be sponsored by an ABFA member as well as a member of the university's faculty. Both the sponsor and the faculty member must provide letters of recommendation.
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
The Emily R. Murphy Graduate Scholarship memorializes a Virginia Commonwealth University forensic scientist student who died in a car accident on the way to a museum. Funded by friends, family, faculty members, students, and alumni, this scholarship seeks to equip future forensics students to make the impact Emily R. Murphy never got the chance to. The scholarship provides funding for full-time graduate students in Virginia Commonwealth University's Forensic Science Department. Students can apply through the school's centralized scholarship application system at the start of each calendar year. VCU prefers students who have demonstrated a clear commitment to community service.
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
Overseen by the Chesapeake Bay Division of the International Association for Identification (CBD-IAI), the George H. Robinson Memorial Scholarship recognizes forensic science and criminal justice students. Presented each year at the CBD-IAI Spring Educational Conferences, this scholarship includes a $1,000 award and a certificate of recognition. Interested students must submit a biographical sketch document including motivation, career goals, and specific project or research interests, as well as two letters of reference from employers, CBD-IAI members, or instructors, not including members of the applicant's family. Students must maintain a GPA of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.
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
The J. Edgar Hoover Foundation has overseen millions of dollars in scholarships. From 2001 until 2015, it awarded them under the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation's Scientific Scholarship name, but in 2016 switched to an endowment-based model which partners with specific colleges and organizations, including the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI Foundation, San Jose State University, and six schools of forensic science, criminology, and criminal justice. Each of these organizations is free to set its own standards, but applicants must be students interested in pursuing a forensic science career as part of a law enforcement or law enforcement support organization.
11. Johnson-Whyte Memorial Scholarships
Deadline: June 1st
The International Association for Identification (IAI) operates the Johnson-Whyte Memorial Foundation, which provides awards for junior, senior, and graduate students in forensic science degree programs. Prospective applicants should be enrolled full-time at an accredited university and have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. While the IAI does not set specific program or coursework requirements, students' degree programs should relate to employment in the field of forensic identification. The scholarship fund also provides money for current IAI members interested in attending the organization's Annual Educational Conference, especially those who want to present research.
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
The Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists oversees several scholarships and awards. It commemorates the life of forensic scientist George W. Chin through its George W. Chin Memorial Scholarship, for junior, senior, or graduate students. The George W. Neighbor, Jr. Memorial Scholarship has similar requirements. It also manages the Carol De Forest Student Research Grant, which provides funding for students actively performing research in forensic science. Students interested in these scholarships must attend schools in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania. Students must submit two letters of recommendation from professors involved in their forensic science or related studies.
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
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides a $10,000 stipend per year for students in fields like forensic science, physics, nuclear engineering, chemistry, and materials science. Potential recipients must be U.S. citizens enrolled in an accredited institution full-time, and must demonstrate an interest in entering the nuclear forensics field after graduation, whether through graduate school or immediate pursuit of work in the field. The program also includes a summer research program with the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which helps recipients build familiarity with the specific demands of nuclear forensics as a field.
16. Sandy Jeffers Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: October 4th
The University of Tennessee in Knoxville has awarded the Sandy Jeffers Memorial Scholarship since 2003, providing at least $500 to students in its Department of Anthropology interested in historical or forensic anthropology. This scholarship commemorates the life of anthropology student Sandy Jeffers, who was slain days before her graduation. Students interested in this scholarship must submit an application which includes a financial plan, academic history, and letter of intent regarding their long-term goals in the field of anthropology. The university selects recipients based on a combination of academic achievement, financial need, and commitment to the field.
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.