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30 Scholarships and Grants for Criminal Justice Students

30 Scholarships and Grants for Criminal Justice Students

As higher education expenses continue to rise, it’s more important than ever to seek out scholarships and grants. When you’re ready to apply for aid, this guide will help you find and win high-quality criminal justice scholarships. Let’s get started.

The demand for criminal justice graduates is growing, but so are college costs. In fact, the average cost of college with living expenses is over $36,000 per year. If you’re considering an online criminal justice degree, it’s important to have a plan for how you’ll fund your education. Fortunately, there are many grants and scholarships available if you know where to look. On this page, we’ve compiled comprehensive information on 30 high-quality scholarships for criminal justice students, including eligibility requirements and deadlines. We’ve also outlined some steps for making your scholarship application and essay stand out in the crowd.

30 Scholarships and Grants for Criminal Justice Students

If you’ve started researching schools and programs, you might be feeling a bit of tuition sticker shock. While a criminal justice degree is a good investment, it’s also a significant financial commitment. The following section is a list of scholarships specifically designed to fund the degrees of online criminal justice students. There are many different types of financial aid available to college students, but scholarships and grants are the most desirable because you don’t need to pay them back like loans. Below, you’ll find general criminal justice scholarships, school-based awards, and grants. We’ve also included a link to the scholarship’s website so you can confirm requirements and deadlines before applying.

  • General Scholarships for Online Criminal Justice Students

    Brian Terry Scholar Program

    • Amount: Varies
    • Description & Eligibility: This merit-based scholarship is available to U.S. citizens or legal residents who have graduated from high school and are enrolled in an undergraduate degree. Applicants must have plans to pursue a career in criminal justice or law enforcement.
    • Deadline: May 31

    Collin Rose Memorial Scholarship Foundation

    • Amount: $1,000
    • Description & Eligibility: This renewable scholarship is for Michigan residents who are enrolled in an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or police academy program. It is limited to majors in the mediation, dispute resolution, criminal justice, law enforcement, firefighting, or paramedic services fields.
    • Deadline: April 1

    Commander Newell S. Rand Jr. Scholarship Program

    • Amount: $1,000
    • Description & Eligibility: This scholarship is for high school graduates who are enrolled in school full-time (associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree) and have plans for a career in park operations. Applicants should be majors in conservation law enforcement, criminal justice, police science, natural resource management, park management, or administration.
    • Deadline: June 1

    Detective Rafaela A. Valdez Memorial Scholarship Award

    • Amount: $1,000
    • Description & Eligibility: Eligible applicants must be current dues-paying members of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and enrolled in a secondary institution. No specific major is required, but you must have a 2.5 GPA and write an essay demonstrating how the award will assist you in helping your community.
    • Deadline: May 31

    Edna R. Anthony/BECA Scholarship

    • Amount: $1,000
    • Description & Eligibility: This scholarship is given out by BECA, an organization of women giving back to their community. Applicants must attend a historically Black college or university and declare a major in criminal justice, political science, journalism, or nursing/healthcare.
    • Deadline: April 15

    The Gene Carte Student Paper Award

    • Amount: $200, $300, $500
    • Description & eligibility: Awarded by the American Society of Criminology, these awards are for papers related to criminology. Papers may be conceptual and/or empirical and must be 8,000 words or less. Undergraduates and graduate students are eligible. 
    • Deadline: April 15

    Harold Johnson Law Enforcement Scholarship

    • Amount: $5,000
    • Description & Eligibility: This scholarship is for graduating high school seniors or recent graduates from the greater San Francisco Bay Area who are enrolled in a two- or four-year college or police academy. Eligible students must have plans to pursue a career in criminal justice or corrections.
    • Deadline: February 28

    John S. Atwater Memorial Scholarship Fund

    • Amount: $3,000
    • Description & Eligibility: This scholarship is awarded each year to a student from Lake Worth High School who has participated in four years of the criminal justice program. Students must plan on continuing their criminal justice studies in college.
    • Deadline: Spring 

    Judge Ralph Fisch Police Explorer Scholarship Program

    • Amount: $1,000
    • Description & Eligibility: Candidates must be high school seniors or current college students with plans to pursue a career in law enforcement. Additionally, applicants must have been involved in a police explorer post from a Florida municipal college or university, school board or district, or a tribal, airport, railroad, or port authority law enforcement agency for at least one year prior to application submission.
    • Deadline: April 15

    Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association Scholarship Program

    • Amount: $600
    • Description & Eligibility: This scholarship is for students attending the following programs: a mandated POST skills program, the second year of a two-year law enforcement program, or the third or fourth year of a four-year criminal justice program. Successful applicants must be endorsed by their home county sheriff and comply with a background check. 
    • Deadline: October 15

    North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association Criminal Justice Scholarship Annual Application

    • Amount: $2,000
    • Description & Eligibility: This scholarship is for students residing in North Carolina who are pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Students must be enrolled in at least 12 undergraduate credits in a criminal justice program at the University of North Carolina or one of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.
    • Deadline: Rolling

    NYS Sheriffs’ Institute Scholarship Program

    • Amount: $250
    • Description & Eligibility: The New York State Sheriffs’ Institute Scholarship Program is for criminal justice or political science majors enrolled at SUNY Canton and all community colleges in New York state (one winner per school). Winners are nominated by criminal justice faculty at their respective schools.
    • Deadline: September

    Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship

    • Amount: $2,000, $5,000, $7,500, and $10,000
    • Description & Eligibility: These scholarships are awarded by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and are intended for students pursuing study in a fraud-related field (e.g., criminal justice, business administration). Applicants must be second-semester sophomores, juniors, or seniors enrolled in an accredited four-year college.
    • Deadline: February 5

    Sacramento Asian Peace Officers’ Scholarship

    • Amount: $1,000
    • Description & Eligibility: The Sacramento Asian Peace Officers’ Association awards one $1000 scholarship to students from the greater Sacramento area. Students must plan on attending college with a major in criminal justice or an accredited police academy. 
    • Deadline: May 19

    Sheryl A. Horak Law Enforcement Explorer Memorial Scholarship

    • Amount: $1,000
    • Description & Eligibility: This merit-based scholarship is for any law enforcement explorer who is in the 12th grade or beyond. Eligible students should plan on pursuing a career in law enforcement after graduation.
    • Deadline: March 31

    The Wifle Scholarship Program

    • Amount: Varies
    • Description & Eligibility: This scholarship is intended for criminal justice majors who have completed at least one year of college. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited four-year college or enrolled in a two-year college with the intent to transfer to a four-year college. 
    • Deadline: May 1
  • School-Based Scholarships for Criminal Justice Students

    Christopher Rearly Memorial Scholarship

    • Amount: up to $2,000
    • Description & Eligibility: Offered by Arizona State University, this scholarship is for criminal justice majors who identify as having a disability that limits one or more major life activities. Priority is given to upperclassmen.
    • Deadline: April 1

    Criminal Justice Student Association Scholarship

    • Amount: $500 minimum
    • Description & Eligibility: This California State University – Long Beach scholarship is awarded to an undergraduate student majoring or minoring in criminology and criminal justice. They must be a current member of the CJSA in good standing.
    • Deadline: Spring

    Doyle E. and Janet T. Young Endowed Memorial Scholarship

    • Amount: Varies
    • Description & Eligibility: From Florida State University, this scholarship is for full-time students at the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be military veterans or dependents of military or federal law enforcement. 
    • Deadline: August 29

    Dr. Judy Hails Student Criminal Justice Endowed Student Award 

    • Amount: $1,000-$3,000
    • Description & Eligibility: From California State University – Long Beach this scholarship is for criminology and criminal justice majors who demonstrate financial need and are single parenting a child with primary custody. 
    • Deadline: Spring

    Dr. Leslie W. Kennedy MA Community Research Award

    • Amount: $500 tuition credit and $1,000 stipend after submitting a deliverable 
    • Description & Eligibility: This scholarship is offered to Rutgers University students earning a master’s in criminal justice. Applicants must submit a proposal outlining a community research project. Possible project ideas include reviews of research, secondary data analyses, or feasibility studies for original projects that require primary data collection.
    • Deadline: October 31

    Dr. Maria (Maki) Haberfeld Scholarship in Memory of Detective Wilbert Mora

    • Amount: $1,000
    • Description & Eligibility: Given by John Jay College, this scholarship is for undergraduates who have an interest in police training and education. Priority is given to students who have done research or written papers related to police tactical training.
    • Deadline: May 31

    J. Edgar Hoover Foundation Leadership Scholarship

    • Amount: $1,200
    • Description & Eligibility: This University of Maryland scholarship is for rising juniors and seniors who are majoring in criminology and criminal justice. Applicants must have a 3.3 GPA or higher and have completed at least 12 credits at The University of Maryland.
    • Deadline: February 

    Keith B. Carrington, Sr. Memorial Scholarship in Criminal Justice

    • Amount: $2,500
    • Description & Eligibility: John Jay College offers this renewable scholarship to undergraduates majoring in criminal justice (BA or BS) or enrolled in the BA or MA program in criminal justice. Students must demonstrate financial need and have a 3.0 GPA or above.
    • Deadline: May 31

    Marvin W. Dexter Scholarship

    • Amount: Varies
    • Description & eligibility: This Indiana University-Bloomington scholarship is geared toward first-generation college students earning a BA in criminal justice. The award is in honor of an Indiana state trooper who embodied the values of social justice, community service, and fairness.
    • Deadline: Spring

    Steven C. Croglio Scholarship

    • Amount: Varies
    • Description & eligibility: Given by SUNY-Fredonia, callouts for this scholarship occur each spring semester. Juniors in the criminal justice major are eligible and they should have at least a 3.0 GPA. The awards are applied toward their senior year. Applicants should plan to pursue a career in law enforcement.
    • Deadline: Spring

    Todd C. Mayberry Criminal Justice Endowed Scholarship Fund

    • Amount: Varies
    • Description & eligibility: This scholarship is available to criminal justice majors at Michigan State University. Applicants must be seniors and interested in a career in law enforcement. A personal statement and a letter of recommendation from a professor or supervisor are required.
    • Deadline: Last Friday in February
  • Grants for Criminal Justice Students

    Cal Grant C Award

    • Amount: Up to $2,462 for tuition and fees and $547 for books, tools, and equipment at a private institution or up to $1,094 at any California community college.
    • Description & eligibility: This is free grant money for low-income California residents. Applicants must be enrolled in an occupational or technical program. According to the approved occupation list, there are many criminal justice careers that will earn extra points on your application. For example: police officers, criminal investigators, correctional officers, and detectives are eligible.
    • Deadline: March 2

    New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

    • Amount: Up to $5,665
    • Description & eligibility: While this grant program is not specifically for criminal justice majors, they are encouraged to apply. Eligible students must be NYS residents, reside in NYS for at least the past 12 months, and attend an approved secondary institution in the state. There are also income requirements.
    • Deadline: June 30

    Ohio College Opportunity Grant

    • Amount: Varies
    • Description & eligibility: This grant program is available to Ohio residents enrolled in an associate degree, first bachelor’s degree, or nurse diploma program at an eligible Ohio or Pennsylvania institution. There are income limits and requirements.
    • Deadline: October 1

Key Ways to Increase Your Chances of Earning a Criminal Justice Scholarship

Scholarships and grants are an effective way to pay for your online criminal justice degree, but the competition is stiff. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to pay special attention to your application. Follow the five tips below to increase your chances of earning the scholarships you need to pay for school.

  • Highlight Community Involvement & Extracurriculars

    Scholarships are competitive, so it’s essential to stand out and show that you are well-rounded outside of the classroom. Highlight extracurriculars demonstrating your unique skills and interests and show the application committee how you differ from your peers. You can also use your application to show how you’ve given back to the community through volunteer work and other initiatives. Many scholarships are awarded to students who better their communities, so by highlighting your volunteerism, you can demonstrate your leadership abilities and how you’ve made a positive impact.

  • Write an Impactful Essay or Personal Statement

    Craft a well-written and thoughtful essay that addresses the essay prompt directly. Use vivid examples and personal anecdotes to illustrate your points and make your essay memorable. For example, rather than describe yourself as “hard-working,” use specific examples of how you are achieving your educational goals. Are you interning with an organization? What do you plan to do after graduation? You can also use the personal statement or essay to discuss your financial need and how the scholarship can help with your goals. Keep in mind that the personal statement is the time to showcase your writing skills, so be sure to double-check your final draft for spelling errors.

  • Showcase What Makes You Unique

    Maybe you are passionate about the legal system or dream of working for the FBI someday. Whatever it is that makes you uniquely you, be sure that shines through in your criminal justice scholarship application. Do you have personal experience in the area? Have you job shadowed someone in the industry? Be specific when you discuss why you’re pursuing this course of study. It’s also a good idea to discuss how the scholarship will help you achieve your educational and professional goals. Scholarship committees want to know how the money will help students, so don’t be afraid to tell them your story.

  • Source Solid Letters of Recommendation

    Choose recommenders who can speak to your character, abilities, and accomplishments. Be sure to provide them with information about the scholarship and your goals to help them write strong letters. Consider including your transcripts, a copy of your resume (or extracurriculars), and a draft of your personal statement. If there’s a specific skill or characteristic that you’d like the recommender to highlight, let them know. Most importantly, respect your recommender’s time and avoid last-minute requests. Ask for the letter well in advance of the deadline (at least four to six weeks) and follow up to make sure they have everything they need.

  • Follow Directions and Submit Early

    Turning in a complete application well before the deadline is a great way to get noticed. It may seem obvious, but sometimes following the instructions and meeting the submission deadline can be half the battle. Many scholarship committees will disqualify applications that don’t contain all the necessary information or are submitted late, so don’t be that person. Start the process early and make a checklist of all necessary components. If the application requires transcripts or recommendation letters, be sure to request these well in advance.