Scholarships for Criminal Justice Majors

The field of criminal justice is steadily growing, and a degree in this area of study can open the door to diverse career opportunities in law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. Typically, criminal justice professionals work for local, state, or federal governments, investigative and security services, and education institutions. Graduates in the field go on to become crime scene investigators, police officers, probation officers, crime lab analysts, court reporters, and more.

Professionals holding a master’s degree or higher are likely to find more job opportunities and higher pay.

Most entry-level criminal justice positions require a bachelor’s degree, but professionals holding a master’s degree or higher are likely to find more job opportunities and higher pay. Employers are increasingly seeking criminal justice professionals with advanced skills in computer science, forensics, psychology, cybercrimes, accounting, finance, and foreign languages. Job prospects are greatest for those pursuing careers as information security analysts, cyber security and correctional treatment specialists, and legal assistants. As the demand for criminal justice professionals grows, more financial aid opportunities have become available specifically for individuals earning a degree in the field.

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The Federal Student Loan Program helps students pay for their criminal justice degrees through grants, work-study, or low-interest student loans. To apply for aid, students must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. Completing FAFSA is free, simple, and fast. The government gives out a variety of student loans, including subsidized (meaning the government pays for some interest), unsubsidized, Perkins Loans (for high-need students), and PLUS loans , which can be used to pay for expenses not covered by other aid.

Several loan forgiveness plans exist to help criminal justice graduates, as well. With these plans, some or all debt is paid off, usually in exchange for a set amount of work or service. Two of the most widely used loan forgiveness plans include:

NDSL/Perkins Loan Cancellation – Full-time law enforcement or corrections officers can have up to 100% of their Federal Perkins Loans forgiven.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – Full-time law enforcement officials may be eligible for this program, which forgives the remaining balance on direct loans after 120 payments if the borrower works for a qualified public service organization.

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Higher education has become increasingly necessary in the job market. Yet, as the cost of schooling continues to skyrocket, paying for college has become stressful for students and their families, and many graduates are burdened with high levels of student debt after paying for tuition, books, fees, room and board, and other costs of living.

Fortunately, countless scholarships and grants are available to help criminal justice majors pay for school, and unlike loans, they do not have to be repaid. Scholarships for criminal justice students are offered by the government, schools, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and individuals.

Aside from public recognition, organizations are motivated to provide scholarships to students for a variety of reasons. Schools often offer criminal justice scholarships to attract the best candidates, companies provide scholarships as part of their commitment to social responsibility, and the government frequently makes scholarships and grants available in order to encourage students to pursue career paths where supply does not meet demand.

Below, we have compiled an extensive list of scholarships for criminal justice majors, including criminal justice scholarships and criminal justice grants specifically for undergraduates, graduate students, minorities, and women.

Featured Criminal Justice Scholarships

COAG Scholarships

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Who’s Eligible? The Constitutional Officers Association of Georgia (COAG) offers these scholarships to support students seeking an undergraduate degree in a variety of fields including law enforcement. Applicants must be high school seniors or college students in Georgia.
Amount: $500-$1,500
Deadline: April 1

Brian Terry Scholarships

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Who’s Eligible? The Brian Terry Foundation offers scholarships in honor of the memory of a border patrolman killed in the line of duty. The scholarships support students studying criminal justice at the undergraduate level who plan on pursuing careers in law enforcement.
Amount: Varies
Deadline: May 31

Anderson Criminal Justice Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The Washington State Fair offers the Anderson Criminal Justice Scholarship to criminal justice students who are Washington residents, with preference given to students pursuing a career in law enforcement.
Amount: $5,000 (payable over 2 years)
Deadline: February 12

Dan Sprehe Memorial Scholarship Fund

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Who’s Eligible? The Greater Chicago Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners awards this scholarship to up to 10 students annually. Applicants must be enrolled full-time at Chicago colleges and major in criminal justice or related majors.
Amount: Scholarships cover the cost of ACFE prep courses and the CFE exam.
Deadline: Applications open September 2016

Alpha Phi Sigma Best Paper Scholarships

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Who’s Eligible? Alpha Phi Sigma presents three scholarship awards to undergraduate students who win the Best Paper Scholarship competition. Students must write a paper on the designated topic in criminal justice and be members of Alpha Phi Sigma.
Amount: $150 to $500
Deadline: January 15

Robert Bobby Decker Memorial Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The SAISD Foundation awards this scholarship to high school seniors from Highlands High School in San Antonio in the Police Explorers and Criminal Justice course. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA, be committed to a career in criminal justice, participate in extracurricular activities, and have 20 hours of community service.
Amount: Scholarship amount varies
Deadline: TBA

Virginia Sheriffs' Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The Virginia Sheriff’s Office awards this scholarship to Virginia students majoring in criminal justice. Students must attend college in Virginia, be registered voters, and have a letter of recommendation from a local Virginia Resident Sheriff.
Amount: $1,000 or more
Deadline: May 1

My Alarm Center Student Scholarships

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Who’s Eligible? My Alarm Center provides this scholarship to students currently studying law enforcement, law, criminal justice, or a related field. Applicants must submit an essay and be a graduating high school senior or a freshman or sophomore in college.
Amount: $1,000
Deadline: July 1

Paul Janosky Criminal Justice Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The Police Officer Assistance Trust provides this award to a high school senior or college student in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Monroe County enrolled in or planning to enroll in a criminal justice program. Applicants must be the son or daughter of a law enforcement officer working in Miami-Dade County and have a 2.5 GPA.
Amount: $1,000 (prior recipients can reapply)
Deadline: May 1

Sheryl A. Horak Law Enforcement Explorer Memorial Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The Sheryl A. Horak Law Enforcement Explorer Memorial Scholarship is a merit-based award given to a law enforcement Explorer who is at least a high school senior. Candidates are chosen based on academic record, leadership ability, extracurricular activities, and their personal statement.
Amount: Amount varies
Deadline: March 31

Lionel J. Neiman Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? This scholarship is offered to criminal justice students at Ball State University entering their senior year. Applicants must be planning to complete an internship and have a 3.0 GPA. Participation in community service activities and financial need are considered.
Amount: Amount varies
Deadline: March 1

Ronnie Williams Foundation Criminal Justice Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The Ronnie Williams Foundation grants this award to high school seniors from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania who have at least a 2.5 GPA and plan on majoring in criminal justice.
Amount: $1,000
Deadline: May 31

M. Brenn Green Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? Florida Atlantic University offers this scholarship to FAU freshman majoring in criminal justice. Applicants must have a strong academic record.
Amount: $4,000 (over 8 semesters)
Deadline: January 15

Indiana Sheriffs' Association Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? This scholarship is offered to Indiana residents who are full-time students and committed to a career in law enforcement. The applicant must be a member of the association or a dependent child or grandchild of a member.
Amount: $500 (renewable for 3 years)
Deadline: TBA

James C. Boswell Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University offers this scholarship to undergraduates majoring in criminal justice at SHSU. Students must have a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need.
Amount: Varies
Deadline: February 1

Wade and Alice Knapp Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The University of Nebraska at Lincoln offers this scholarship to undergraduate students in its School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Financial need is considered.
Amount: $2,000
Deadline: March 15

John Jay Rising Star Fellowship

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Who’s Eligible? The faculty of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice presents this fellowship to an undergraduate student who shows great promise. The funding supports the student’s ability to take an unpaid internship, research assistantship, or to study abroad.
Amount: $3,000
Deadline: June 1

Criminal Justice Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? Crimcheck.com offers this scholarship to a high school senior or undergraduate enrolled in a criminal justice program. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate leadership.
Amount: $500
Deadline: August 1

Captain Jim Unterwagner Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? Slippery Rock University awards this scholarship to a criminology student at SRU who has completed 64 credits, has financial need, and has done well academically.
Amount: $500
Deadline: March 1

Wyoming Peace Officers Association Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? WPOA provides this scholarship to a Wyoming resident majoring in a law enforcement program at the University of Wyoming or Wyoming Community College. Applicants must have a C average and be enrolled full-time.
Amount: $500 to $1,000 (per year)
Deadline: July 31

Criminal Justice Scholarships for Minorities and Women

Ruth D. Peterson Fellowship for Racial and Ethnic Diversity

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Who’s Eligible? The American Society of Criminology presents three fellowship awards annually to encourage students of color to enter criminal justice. Applicants must be from racial groups underrepresented in the field and be accepted into a doctoral program.
Amount: $6,000
Deadline: March 1

Irlet Anderson Scholarship Award

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Who’s Eligible? Awarded by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, this scholarship provides funding to an African American high school senior committed to a career in law enforcement or criminal justice. Applicants must have financial need and a GPA of 3.8.
Amount: $2,500
Deadline: April 15

Dorothy Bracey/Janice Joseph Minority and Women New Scholar Award

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Who’s Eligible? The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences gives this award to recognize outstanding minority and female students. Students must be a woman or minority, a member of ACJS, have received a Ph.D. in the past 7 years, and have a strong record as a new scholar in research, teaching, and service.
Amount: $1,000
Deadline: October 15, 201

Charles Fonseca Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives awards this scholarship to an African American high school senior who commits to a career in law enforcement or criminal justice. Applicants must have financial need and a GPA of 3.8 or higher.
Amount: $2,000
Deadline: April 15

Out to Protect Scholarship Award

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Who’s Eligible? Out to Protect Inc. offers this scholarship to support members of the LGBT pursuing a career in law enforcement who are willing to be visible role models. Applicants must identify as LGBT, be enrolled in a law enforcement training program, and demonstrate the ability to be a positive role model for law enforcement.
Amount: $500 to $1,000
Deadline: May 26

Alphonso Deal Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The National Black Police Association offers this scholarship to high school seniors of “good character,” who have been accepted to college and want to pursue a career in law enforcement. Applicants must have a letter of recommendation, write an essay, and be a U.S. citizen.
Amount: Varies
Deadline: May 20

Esther Madriz Student Travel Awards

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Who’s Eligible? The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences provides funding to women and minority criminal justice students to be used to attend the ACJS Annual Meeting. Recipients must be a woman or minority and should be prepared to make a presentation at the conference.
Amount: $600
Deadline: October 15

WIFLE Members-Only Annual Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) offers an annual “members-only” scholarship to WIFLE members majoring in criminal justice. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA, be a full-time student of criminal justice (or a related field), have completed at least one year of college, and provide a letter of recommendation.
Amount: $1,500 (automatically renews for one year)
Deadline: May 2

Edna R. Anthony Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The Women of BECA offer this scholarship to outstanding high school seniors who are females of color. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.5, attend a historically black college or university, and declare a major in criminal justice, journalism, or nursing.
Amount: $1,000
Deadline: May 15

O.B. Ellis and Philip Gibbs, M.D. Memorial Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University offers this scholarship to female criminal justice majors (age 21-45) at SHSU. Applicants must be juniors or graduate students and have a 3.0 GPA. Preference is given to those with experience in the profession.
Amount: Varies
Deadline: February 1

WIFLE Annual Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) offers an annual scholarship to a student majoring in criminal justice. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA, be a full-time student of criminal justice, have completed at least one year of college, submit an essay, and be sponsored by at least one community leader.
Amount: $2,500 (may be renewable)
Deadline: May 2

Michelle A. Edwards Memorial Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University offers this scholarship to full-time junior or senior female students majoring in victim studies at SHSU. Financial need will be considered. Applicants must have a 3.0 overall GPA and 3.25 in their major.
Amount: Varies
Deadline: February 1

Criminal Justice Scholarships for Graduate Students

ACJS Student Scholarship Award

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Who’s Eligible? The Academy of Criminal Justice Studies awards funding for two students (one master’s and one PhD) to travel to the annual ACJS conference. Students must present a paper at the conference.
Amount: $600
Deadline: December 1

Pi Gamma Mu Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? Pi Gamma Mu offers this scholarship to its members studying criminal justice. The award supports 11 students each year who are in their first or second year of graduate work.
Amount: $1,000-$2,000
Deadline: February 15

Regina B. Shearn Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? Alpha Phi Sigma presents this scholarship to one undergraduate and one graduate criminal justice student each year based on academic achievement, leadership, and service. Applicants must submit a personal statement and evaluation reports from three individuals familiar with their performance and character and be Alpha Phi Sigma members.
Amount: $1,500
Deadline: January 15

Gene Carte Student Paper Award

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Who’s Eligible? The American Society of Criminology presents these awards to recognize outstanding scholarly work of criminal justice students. Undergraduate or graduate students may enter the competition by submitting a scholarly paper.
Amount: $200-$500
Deadline: April 15

Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners offers this scholarship to students majoring in criminal justice, accounting, business administration, or finance. Undergraduate and graduate students qualify for the award. Students must have fraud-related interests and activities.
Amount: $1,000-$10,000
Deadline: February 5

Rolando del Carmen Criminal Justice Endowed Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University offers this scholarship to a full-time graduate student majoring in criminal justice at SHSU. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and have a 3.5 GPA.
Amount: Varies
Deadline: February 1

UNO/UNL Criminal Justice Education Fund Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the Board of the Criminal Justice Education Fund present this award to an undergraduate or graduate in the school’s criminology department with high scholastic achievement.
Amount: Up to $1,000
Deadline: TBA

Thurgood Marshall Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The John Jay College of Criminal Justice awards this scholarship to graduate students who have completed 12 credits and have a 3.2 GPA. Recipients must commit to raising awareness about issues faced by poor and minority groups in the criminal justice system.
Amount: $500-$1,000
Deadline: June 1

ACJA/Lambda Delta Epsilon Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? The American Criminal Justice Association offers this scholarship to undergraduate & graduate students currently studying criminal justice. Students must be ACJA/LAE members, or submit an application upon submission of scholarship application. Students must have a 3.0 GPA.
Amount: $100-$400
Deadline: March 1

V.A. Leonard Scholarship

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Who’s Eligible? Alpha Phi Sigma presents this scholarship to one undergraduate and one graduate criminal justice student each year based on academic achievement, professional recommendations, and extracurricular activities. Applicants must be Alpha Phi Sigma members. To apply, they must submit an essay and three letters of recommendation.
Amount: $1,500
Deadline: January 15