20 Great Criminal Justice Scholarships for 2021

Whether you’re planning to become a lawyer, activist, police officer, or have your eye on any number of other careers in the justice system, a criminal justice degree is a great place to start. But college can be expensive. Even with federal financial aid and student loans, sometimes there are gaps. A great way to fill these funding gaps are private scholarships. This is why we’ve put together a list of twenty great criminal justice scholarships.

Image of student for our ranking of best criminal justice scholarships

All the scholarships included in our list are private scholarships. While some may have regional geographic restrictions, we haven’t included university-specific scholarships in this list because they are easy enough to access through your school’s financial aid office. The scholarships for criminal justice majors on this list range from scholarships for students who want to advance the cause of social justice, to scholarships for children of law enforcement officers. We’ve included scholarships at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. If you have any more questions about scholarships in general, and the strategies you can use to get them, check out the FAQ at the end of the article!

Ranking the Top 20 Criminal Justice Scholarships for 2021

1. Episcopal Church Women Diocese of Washington

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

This scholarship is open to criminal justice majors who intend to use their education to fight for social justice. If your intent is to study the criminal justice system in order to understand and reform its flaws, consider applying for this scholarship. Students must be a resident of Washington D.C. and planning to attend a junior, community, or four-year college. Students must also be an active member of an Episcopal church in the Washington diocese.

  • Award Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: June 30th

2. Darius Quimby Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

The Darius Quimby Memorial Scholarship is available to high school seniors and college students who intend to pursue a degree in the law enforcement field. The scholarship is also open to current law enforcement officers who intend to pursue a degree. The scholarship is intended for students pursuing criminal justice or a closely related subject like criminology or other subject directly related to law enforcement. It is not open to students studying law.

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: Mar 5th

3. Victoria Ovis Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

The Victoria Ovis Memorial Scholarship is available to students who are children of a law enforcement officer who was killed or permanently disabled on the job. The scholarship is awarded based on academic merit and achievements in leadership, the arts, sports, and volunteering in one’s community. While any major can apply, preference is given to students who are majoring in criminology or pre-law.

  • Award Amount: $2,000
  • Application Deadline: May 31

4. Sheryl A. Horak Law Enforcement Explorer Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

The Sheryl A. Horak Law Enforcement Explorer Memorial Scholarship was created to support law enforcement explorers who intend to pursue a career in law enforcement; it comes in fourth on our list of scholarships for criminal justice majors. Any law enforcement explorer in 12th grade can apply. The scholarship is awarded based on academic performance, leadership ability, extracurricular activities, and a personal essay explaining why the candidate wants to pursue a career in law enforcement.

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: Mar 31

5. Kevin Riordan Presidential Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

The Kevin Riordan Presidential Scholarship honors the president of the Maine Police Emerald Society. The scholarship is open to students graduating from a Maine high school or attending a Maine college or university. Students must be aspiring law enforcement officers majoring in a subject area related to criminal justice. The scholarship can be used for tuition, books, a personal computer, or on-campus room and board.

  • Award Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: May 31st

6. Collin Rose Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate, Graduate, Post-graduate

This scholarship can be renewed once for the academic year following the one for which it was awarded. So in reality, it’s a $2,000 scholarship if the student wishes to renew it. It can be applied to tuition and fees. Applicants must be a Michigan resident, 17 or older, and a United States citizen. A minimum GPA of 2.5 is required in order to apply for the scholarship, and students must have a good attendance record. The scholarship is available to students pursuing an associate’s or higher degree in subjects like mediation, dispute resolution, criminal justice, law enforcement, firefighting, or paramedic services.

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: Apr 1st

7. Zinda Law Group

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

The Zinda Law scholarship is open to students who want to help consumers, families, the public or underserved communities. Eligible degrees for this scholarship include criminal justice, law enforcement, political science, government, homeland security, sociology, psychology, and liberal arts. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The application consists basically of a resume (with academic and personal achievements) and a 500-1,000 word essay about why you should receive the scholarship.

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: Dec 1st

8. Ruth D. Peterson Fellowship for Racial and Ethnic Diversity

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Post-Graduate

This scholarship exists to support students who belong to racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in law enforcement, criminology, and criminal justice fields. Students must have been admitted into a criminology and/or criminal justice doctoral program at the time of application. Three fellowships are awarded each year and are paid in November.

  • Award Amount: $6,000
  • Application Deadline: Mar 1st

9. Ronnie Williams Foundation Criminal Justice Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

This criminal justice scholarship is available to students who reside in Delaware, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania. Applicants must have a 2.5 GPA and be majoring, or intending to major, in criminal justice. The application requires the submission of your most recent high school transcripts, three letters of reference, and a 500 word essay on why the applicant wishes to become a law enforcement officer. This is one of the best scholarships for criminal justice majors.

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: May 31st

10. Anderson Criminal Justice Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

Applicants to this criminal justice law enforcement/police scholarship must be Washington state residents who are graduating seniors or returning students/adult learners. Applicants must be attending their program full time. The scholarship can be used toward either tuition or books. In addition to being a resident of Washington state, applicants must be attending a college or university within the state.

  • Award Amount: $5,000
  • Application Deadline: Contact Organization

11. Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate or Graduate

This criminal justice scholarship offers awards of $1,000, $2,500, $5,000, and $10,000. Students must be enrolled in 9 semester hours as undergraduates, or 6 semester hours as graduate students at a four-year college or university. Students must have a declared major or minor in criminal justice, accounting, business administration, or finance, and be interested in a career in fraud examination or an anti-fraud profession.

  • Award Amount: $1,000 to $10,000
  • Application Deadline: January 30th

12. Brian Terry Foundation Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

Brian Terry Scholars must be dedicated to upholding the values of justice, perseverance, and accountability. Ideal candidates are committed to having a positive impact on their community, social justice, and must demonstrate prior academic success and a zeal for lifelong intellectual development. The scholarship is open to students who intend to study criminal justice or related subject with the end goal of a career in law enforcement. Students can use scholarship funds for tuition, books, and living expenses.

  • Award Amount: $1,500
  • Application Deadline: May 31st

13. Alpha Phi Sigma V.A. Leonard Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate and Graduate

This criminal justice scholarship is awarded to one undergraduate and one graduate student in criminal justice every year. Scholarships are available to members of Alpha Phi Sigma (a criminal justice honors society) and your submitted transcripts must be signed by your chapter advisor. Application includes an essay 5-7 pages on what direction you think the honor society should take in the future, and an additional two pages on why you deserve the scholarship. Applicants also need 3 letters of recommendation from faculty.

  • Award Amount: $2,000
  • Application Deadline: Jan 31

14. Alpha Phi Sigma Regina B. Shearn Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate and Graduate

Another scholarship for members of the Alpha Phi Sigma criminal justice honor society, the Regina B. Shearn scholarship is awarded to one undergraduate and one graduate student member of the society. The scholarship is awarded based on academic performance, leadership qualities, and service. Applicants will make a personal statement on their educational perspective, purpose, and objectives in five to seven pages. The student will also submit evaluation reports from three people who can vouch for their performance, citizenship, and character.

  • Award Amount: $2,000
  • Application Deadline: Jan 31st

15. My Alarm Criminal Justice Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

This criminal justice scholarship is offered by My Alarm Center with the purpose of supporting individuals who are committed to making our communities a safer place. The scholarship is open to students studying law enforcement, law, criminal justice, or a related field. Applicants must be either a high school senior (graduating) or in their first two years of college. Applicants may not be related to any My Alarm Center staff or extended family. Applicants simply submit an essay answering the essay questions and relevant requested contact information for themselves and their school.

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: Jul 1

16. Pi Gamma Mu Scholarships

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Graduate

Pi Gamma Mu is an international social sciences honor society. Members can qualify for $1,000 and $2,000 scholarships (up to ten awarded each year to members) to help them attend graduate school. Qualifying areas of study include criminal justice, law, social work, cultural geography, psychology, public administration, international relations, sociology and anthropology.

  • Award Amount: $1,000-$2,000
  • Application Deadline: Feb. 15

17. POAT Scholarship

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

Applicants for this criminal justice scholarship, one of the best scholarships for criminal justice, must be full-time students of a Miami-Dade, Broward, or Monroe County high school (graduating senior) or college. Applicants must also but the son or daughter of a law enforcement officer working within Miami-Date county. Applicants must be intending to major (or currently majoring in) criminal justice, law, or public safety and have a 2.5 GPA.

  • Award Amount: $2,000
  • Application Deadline: May 31st

18. Virginia Sheriff’s Institute

Scholarship Website

Applicants to the Virginia Sheriffs’ Institute’s scholarship for criminal justice must be a permanent resident in a Virginia county or city where their sheriff is a member of the institute. Students 18 and older who apply must be registered to vote and provide a copy of their voter registration. Students under 18 must provide their photo ID to prove residency. The scholarship amount varies, and scholarships are available to both full-time and part-time students. Only students majoring in criminal justice will be considered for the scholarship.

  • Award Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: May 1st

19. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Scholarships

Scholarship Website
Degree Level: Undergraduate

WIFLE offers scholarships both to members and non-members. The organization exists to promote increasing numbers of women in federal law enforcement roles. Applicants must be enrolled full-time in a four-year college. Eligible majors include criminal justice, social sciences, public administration, computer science, finance, linguistic arts, chemistry, and physics. Applicants must be intending to use their degree in a law enforcement capacity, with an career goal of eventually working in federal law enforcement.

  • Award Amount: $1,500
  • Application Deadline: Feb 1

20. Wyoming Peace Officers Association

Scholarship Website

The Wyoming Peace Officers Association offers scholarships to applicants in four categories detailed on the scholarship website. Some of these categories are for children of current members of the organization, and some are for any Wyoming resident majoring in a criminal justice or law enforcement program at the University of Wyoming or a Wyoming community college. All scholarships are for $1,000 per academic year.

  • Award Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: Jul 31st

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly can I do with a criminal justice degree?

Criminal justice is a very versatile degree. It can qualify you for a great number of jobs within the justice system, from working as a police officer, to law enforcement administration, to working with non-profits who try to address system issues in the justice system. Many people who intend to become lawyers, prosecutors or defense lawyers especially, get their undergraduate degree in criminal justice in order to develop a familiarity with the system they’ll eventually be part of.

A criminal justice degree can help qualify you for leadership positions as a law enforcement officer. It’s also a great choice for anyone who wants to become a federal law enforcement officer, which often requires a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree. A criminal justice degree can also be a great tool for somebody who wants to become a private investigator.

Some of the scholarships on here have very restrictive residence requirements. Why include those?

Two reasons. First, these scholarships for criminal justice majors represent great opportunities for the people who do live in those communities. Second, most scholarships don’t do a great job of advertising themselves, as they are offered through nonprofit organizations and smaller organizations, so we want to help get the word out.

The second reason piggybacks on the third. If you take note of not only the specific scholarship and its requirements, but also the types of organizations that offer the scholarships, then you might be able to find something similar in your community that just doesn’t make the information available online. Check with your community organizations and states. Talk to your guidance counselor. Check in with your local police precinct, and see what kinds of opportunities might be out there to earn scholarships in your local community!

Any advice on applying for scholarships for criminal justice majors?

If you want to apply for multiple criminal justice scholarships, it’s important to get organized. Thankfully there are plenty of apps that can help you do that out there. Find the one that fits you best, and input all the scholarship deadlines. Then make yourself as detailed a schedule as you need to make sure you get all the applications in on time. It’s a good idea to focus on applying for one scholarship at a time, and aiming to have each scholarship application submitted a couple weeks or even a month before the deadline. Also, make sure to verify the deadline for 2021. Some websites may be slow to update with that information. If you’re really interested in a specific scholarship and the deadline listed is for 2020, don’t hesitate to reach out and request the information you need to make your plan!

Many of these scholarships are rather small. What use are they when college is so expensive?

Well, while they might appear small in comparison to the cost of school, they still represent a significant amount of money. For instance, if you work a full-time job during the summer making $10/hr, after taxes that will come out to about $3,000. Just one of these scholarships can save you from having to spend a third, or even all of your hard earned money on your tuition, books, and other costs. And how long does it take to put together one of these applications? Ten hours, at most. For a $1,000 scholarship, if you win the award, that’s $100/hr! It’s not uncommon for there to be gaps between financial aid and the cost of school, and these scholarships can help cover those. Another situation to consider is a situation where you get exactly enough money in financial aid to cover the cost of your room, board, and tuition. These scholarships can be used to help pay for books, school supplies, and sometimes even a computer, if you need one. They may not be the much-lauded “full ride” scholarship, but smaller private scholarships are an incredible resource, often underutilized, and shouldn’t be ignored.

GCD Staff
December 2020

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This concludes our ranking of 20 great criminal justice scholarships for 2021.