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Criminal Justice Student Resources, Scholarships, and Support Services
Learn about scholarship opportunities, college support services, and top outside resources that can make all the difference in your criminal justice education.
Last Updated: 11/25/2020
We don’t need to tell you that earning a college degree in criminal justice is a major undertaking requiring plenty of time, effort, and money—which may be in short supply. And, like many criminal justice students, you’ll need some help along the way to succeed.
Finding the funds to pay for your degree program will be among the first hurdles you’ll face. Some of the best funding sources are scholarships. This guide helps you get started on your criminal justice scholarship search with information on school-based scholarship programs, private scholarships currently being offered, and useful advice on how to land great criminal justice scholarships and grants. We’ve also included our list of some of the best online resources available to help you meet your criminal justice academic and career goals.
Campus and Online Support Resources for Criminal Justice Students
Whether you’re at the beginning, in the middle, or approaching the end of your criminal justice program, your college is prepared to help with a full range of on-campus resources. For starters, these include:
- Academic counseling to help you with specialization, course choices, and (for graduate students) thesis and dissertation subject choices.
- Personal counseling, for help with emotional and life issues affecting your academic work.
- Career counseling and job-seeking services to help put you on the path to a successful criminal justice career.
You’ll also find an abundance of excellent online support resources from criminal justice professional associations, law enforcement and legal organizations, and many others. Here’s a look.
University Student Support Centers and Services
Student support services on your campus may be in a single location or they may be in separate offices in different buildings. You’ll discover some support services provided specifically for criminal justice students, while others are for all students, regardless of major. Your school’s website will have detailed information on what’s available. No matter where and how student support services are provided, it’s to your great benefit to make the most of them before, during, and even after you’ve completed your criminal justice degree.
The following two schools offer exemplary student support services to their criminal justice students:
Azusa Pacific University
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
News, Articles, and Podcasts for Criminal Justice Students and Professionals
5 Signs You Should Be Working in Law EnforcementInteresting and informative article from Rasmussen College offering a look at the personal traits and skills that may indicate law enforcement is the right area of the criminal justice field for you.
5 Tips for a Successful Criminal Justice CareerExcellent article by the University of San Diego with valuable advice on how to start, develop, and sustain a successful career in the criminal justice profession.
Criminal Justice NewsThis blog for criminal justice students, academics, and professionals has been around since 2009. It features both historical and current material. Readers can review hundreds of entries on criminal-justice-related topics from dozens of contributors.
Justice in America PodcastThis timely and topical podcast series features conversations with advocates and experts discussing a different criminal justice issue in each episode. Examples include “Juvenile Justice,” “Judicial Elections,” and “Crime, Justice, and the Media.”
What Can I Do with a Criminal Justice Degree?The title of this guide says it all. You’ll find a comprehensive look at the agencies and organizations that hire criminal justice degree graduates, criminal justice job title descriptions and the employment outlook and salary expectations for each, required job skills, and much more.
Criminal Justice Professional Associations and Student Organizations
Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)The ACJS is an international association founded to foster scholarly and professional activities in the criminal justice field. Student memberships are available with benefits that include subscriptions to the association’s journal and newsletters, and access to valuable networking and mentoring opportunities.
Alpha Phi SigmaAlpha Phi Sigma, the nation’s criminal justice honor society, recognizes academic excellence in undergraduate, graduate, and Juris Doctor students. Membership benefits include leadership development and networking opportunities and events, access to exclusive job postings, scholarships and grant opportunities, and much more.
American Correctional Association (ACA)Major professional association of corrections professionals, students, and supporters. ACA Student Chapters are active on nearly 30 college campuses in the U.S., but you can become an ACA student member whether there’s a chapter at your school or not.
American Society of Criminology (ASC)The ASC is an international association of criminology and criminal justice scholars and professionals focused on research related crime and delinquency. ASC activities include publications, sponsorship of meetings and other networking events, and providing job search resources and employment support to its members.
National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA)The NCJA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose purpose is assisting in developing and implementing criminal justice policies and practices for agencies in all sectors of the criminal justice field.
Criminal Justice Social Media and Online Communities
ABA Criminal Justice Twitter AccountThe official Twitter account of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice section. You don’t have to be a lawyer, though, to benefit from the account’s up-to-date information on the criminal justice field.
Council on Criminal Justice Twitter AccountThe Council on Criminal Justice is a national organization that advocates for a fair and effective criminal justice system. Its Twitter account offers visitors a place to learn about the most pressing issues concerning criminal justice in the U.S.
Criminology and Criminal Justice ForumSubstantial online student forum sponsored by The GradCafe and dedicated to the field of criminology and criminal justice. Dozens of threads relevant to students about both the criminal justice profession and college criminal justice programs.
Criminology and Criminal Justice Student Support and Teaching Facebook PageDedicated to criminology and criminal justice undergrads and other interested people. The Facebook page is based in the U.K., but includes members in the U.S. and around the world.
Officer.com ForumsThis highly active site provides access to dozens of public forums and discussion groups related to criminal justice and law enforcement, as well as information on employment and careers, law and politics, and much more.
Support Resources for Students in Online Criminal Justice Programs
There’s been a tremendous amount of growth over the last decade or so in the quality and availability of distance learning postsecondary education. And the pace of that growth has picked up significantly. The result is a substantial and rapidly expanding base of valuable online resources dedicated to helping online students succeed in their academic pursuits. Here’s a look at five such resources for students in online criminal justice programs:
4 Tips for Success in Your Online Criminal Justice Degree ProgramAnother brief article, but one packed with solid advice aimed directly at online criminal justice students to help them make the most of their academic studies.
Criminal Justice Student: Online Class Discussion EngagementBrief but informative article for online criminal justice students that offers advice on how to effectively engage in, and contribute to, online class and related discussion groups. Be sure to check out all of the other great articles on the E-Roll Call Magazine website.
Inside Look at Online Criminal Justice DegreesExcellent guide on everything you need to know about the many types of criminal justice degrees offered online, along with a comprehensive list of the best online criminal justice programs currently available.
National Criminal Justice Reference ServiceComprehensive reference website from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs. Online criminal justice students will find a wealth of resources to use in completing course assignments. Visitors will also find information on attending live criminal-justice–related events.
Student Guide to Online Learning SuccessAnother great step-by-step guide, this one focused on providing new distance learners with valuable information and advice on how to make the most of their online education experience. We’ve also included an interview with a digital learning expert.
College-Sponsored Scholarships in Criminal Justice
Some of the best (as in, biggest dollar amounts) sources of scholarships are colleges and universities themselves, and a great place to start your scholarship and grant search is your school’s financial aid office. That’s where you’ll find information on these school-sponsored scholarships, some of which may be available exclusively to criminal justice students. You can also check for in-house awards by contacting your criminal justice department directly or by visiting the school’s website.
Here are two colleges with noteworthy scholarship opportunities for students enrolled in their criminal justice programs:
Michigan State University (MSU)
University of Nebraska – Omaha
Private Scholarships in Criminal Justice
Scholarships and grants for criminal justice degree seekers come from all sorts of places, including federal and state governments, nonprofit organizations, professional associations, private companies, and even individual donors. Award amounts vary significantly, from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Eligibility requirements also vary from scholarship to scholarship, so it’s important to get a clear understanding of the details of each award before spending the time and effort to apply.
Below is a list of 15 scholarships currently available for criminal justice undergraduate and graduate students:
5 Tips for Winning a Criminal Justice Scholarship
Regardless of the specific job, attention to detail is an important trait for anyone intending on a successful career in criminal justice. That’s good, because successfully landing a criminal justice scholarship also requires attention to detail in both finding the right scholarships to apply to and in putting together a winning application package. Here are five important tips to give you the best shot at winning one or more scholarships:
- Tip #1: Get going
As you’re searching for a criminal justice degree program, search out criminal justice scholarship opportunities as well. The search itself can be time-consuming, plus you’ll need time to get your application package just right.
- Tip #2: To win more scholarships, apply to more scholarships
You’re not limited to one award. And the more contests you apply to, the better your chances of winning. Just make sure you meet all of the award qualifications.
- Tip #3: Go for the tough ones
By the tough ones we mean those with the most requirements, like essays on criminal justice issues, personal statements, multiple letters of recommendation, etc. Sure, they’re a bigger hassle, but they’re just as big of a hassle to other potential applicants. And that means there will probably be less competition.
- Tip #4: Blow your own horn
How do you rise above the scholarship competition “noise” and get yourself noticed by the selection committee? With your personal statement, that’s how. So, be sure to write the best personal statement possible by making it specific to your genuine interest in criminal justice and the specific area of the field in which you intend to pursue your career. And, most importantly, don’t be shy. Let the committee know loud and clear why you’re the best choice to win the award.
- Tip #5: Dot your i’s and cross your t’s
We started this section with a nod to the importance of attention to detail in winning scholarships. Here’s what we mean. Nothing will kill your chances of landing an award quicker than a sloppy application and poorly compiled supporting documents. So, put some real time and effort into satisfying every tiny detail of the application and application process. And – most important of all – don’t miss a deadline.
Other Ways to Get Help Paying for College as a Criminal Justice Student
Some college-bound individuals out there may be in the fortunate position of paying for their education entirely through scholarship and grant awards, and a very few by simply digging into their own pockets. For everyone else (that’s you and me!), paying for a criminal justice degree program will require putting together a financial aid package that combines funds obtained from one or more available sources. And the single biggest of those sources will likely be a federal student loan. Federal student loans are readily available to qualifying undergrads and grads pursuing their degrees in fully-accredited criminal justice programs throughout the nation. Details on federal student loan opportunities can be found on the Federal Student Aid website. Student loans are also often available through state government programs and private lenders.
Along with student loans, scholarships, and grants, your list of funding sources may include internships and assistantships (for grad students mostly), work-study programs, the GI Bill (for military service members, veterans, and their dependents), and possibly loan forgiveness through the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.