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:

1

Azusa Pacific University

Criminal justice students at Azusa Pacific University can learn all about available support services by visiting the Department of Criminal Justice’s University Resources webpage. The bulk of academic resources are housed in the campus’s Academic Success Center, where students access academic advising, accessibility and disability resources, testing services, strengths-based education and leadership development services, and TRIO support services for first-generation college students and other students who show academic need. The Academic Success Center is also where you’ll find APU’s Tutoring and Writing Centers. Other campus academic resources include the Math and Physics Center and the Center for Global Learning and Engagement, which assists international students.

2

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Part of The City University of New York, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice is focused entirely on degree programs in the criminal justice field. As you might expect from a college with “Criminal Justice” in its title, John Jay offers what may be the most comprehensive package of support services for criminal justice students of any school in the nation. You’ll find information about these services on the Student Resources webpage, including info on academic support and tutoring (math, writing, language, etc.), admissions and financial aid , career advice and planning , health and wellbeing, student emergency assistance (emergency financial aid and emergency loans, food, etc.), and much more. Online students can find help with distance learning issues by visiting the Department of Online Education & Support webpage.

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:

1

Michigan State University (MSU)

MSU’s School of Criminal Justice bills itself as the oldest continuing degree-granting program in Criminal Justice in the U.S. This very substantial program includes degree options on the baccalaureate, master, and doctoral levels, and features two master’s degrees (Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis) that can be completed entirely online. To help its students fund their education, the School of Criminal Justice offers more than a dozen internal scholarships, including the one highlighted below. Award requirements and amounts vary by specific scholarship, but all winners are chosen by the SCJ director upon the recommendation of a school selection committee. Winners are notified in writing by the end of each spring semester.


Michael J. Rutherford Endowed Scholarship

Amount

Varies. Not to exceed the estimated cost of university attendance for the year of the award.

Deadline

2/26/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Available to full-time and part-time criminal justice juniors, seniors, and grad students, who have maintained a minimum 2.0 GPA and, “possess the capacity, motivation and initiative to realize educational and professional goals.”

How to Apply

Follow the application link on the scholarship website. Materials required include academic transcript, resume, letter of recommendation (from instructor or professor), personal reference letter, and personal statement explaining the applicant’s choice of the criminal justice field and intended career.

2

University of Nebraska – Omaha

The University of Nebraska – Omaha School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (SCCJ) is home to degree programs for both undergraduate and graduate criminal justice students, including MA, MS, and PhD degrees in Criminology and Criminal Justice, as well as both on-campus and online options for its BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree. The SCCJ offers several scholarship opportunities exclusively for its students, including the one described below. Amounts and award criteria vary, and some of these scholarships are open to SCCJ students on both the Omaha and Lincoln campuses. Criminology and criminal justice students may also take advantage of scholarships exclusive to UNO students but open to all majors.


Detective Kerrie Orozco First Responders Scholarship

Amount

Up to $1,000

Deadline

2/1/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Available to undergrad Criminology and Criminal Justice students who will be juniors or seniors as the time of the award. Other requirements include Nebraska or Iowa residence, a record of community service, and expressed interest in pursuing a career as a first responder. Preference is given to applicants with financial need.

How to Apply

Follow the application link on the webpage to be directed to the UNO Scholarships portal.

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:

Amount

$2,000

Deadline

6/21/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Open to minority students accepted into or currently attending an undergraduate criminal- justice–related degree program at a four-year college or university. Applicants must also demonstrate financial need and commitment to the principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ACA membership is not required, but the applicant must be nominated by an ACA member.

How to Apply

Follow the link on the scholarship webpage for application instructions. Application must include proof of financial need and academic achievement and a short essay reflecting on the philosophies and ideals of Dr. King.

Amount

$10,000, $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000

Deadline

2/1/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicant must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in a criminal justice or closely-related major program at a four-year college or university. Must demonstrate a desire to pursue a career in fraud examination or related anti-fraud profession.

How to Apply

Contact the program for application details. Materials required include college transcript and two letters of recommendation (one from a professor or Certified Fraud Examiner is preferred).

Amount

$1,000 and $2,000 (depending on the specific scholarship)

Deadline

1/31/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Eligibility requirements vary by scholarship. However, applicants for all scholarships must be an Alpha Phi Sigma member and currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program. See scholarship webpage for details.

How to Apply

Apply online following the application procedures on the scholarship webpage. Materials required vary by scholarship.

Amount

$400, $200, and $100

Deadline

12/31/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

For undergrad and grad students who are Lambda Alpha Epsilon Members and enrolled in a criminal justice course of study. Awards in each amount are made annually in each of the following categories: Graduate Division, Upper (undergrad) Division, and Lower (undergrad) Division. Awards made based on the applicant’s GPA and personal statement.

How to Apply

Complete the scholarship application (see scholarship link) and mail it and all required materials (including personal statement and letter of recommendation) to the address provided.

Amount

$6,000

Deadline

3/1/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Award is open to graduate criminology and criminal justice students accepted into a doctorate program and who belong to an ethnic or racial group underrepresented in the criminology/criminal justice field. ASC membership is not required.

How to Apply

Contact the scholarship program for submittal instructions. Materials required include a CV, proof of doctorate program admission, proof of minority status, college transcripts, three letters of recommendation, financial need statement, and applicant letter describing his/her interest in the criminal justice field and career plans.

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

4/15/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicant must be currently enrolled as a high school senior and heading for a Historically Black College or University with a declared major in criminal justice, journalism, nursing, or healthcare.

How to Apply

Follow the link on the scholarship webpage to download the application form. Required documents include a high school transcript and 1,000-word essay on why the applicant is pursuing a career in their chosen major field.

Amount

Varies

Deadline

5/31/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Open to graduating high school students and current undergrads intending to study criminal justice (or a closely related field) and seek a career in law enforcement. Award criteria include the applicant’s prior academic success, commitment to social justice, goals and achievements, and positive impact on the community.

How to Apply

Follow the link on the scholarship webpage to access the application. Materials required include high school or college transcript, two completed recommendation forms, and personal essay.

Amount

$500

Deadline

8/15/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Available to high school seniors and recent graduates who are currently enrolled as full-time or part-time students pursuing a post-secondary education in the criminal justice field. Award made based on the applicant’s desire and commitment to a criminal justice career, and a demonstrated leadership and willingness to learn.

How to Apply

Submit application and documents to the program via the email address provided. Materials required include academic transcript and personal essay.

Amount

$500

Deadline

12/31/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Incoming freshmen and current college undergraduates, graduates, and law students with an interest in criminal justice reform are eligible for this award. Factors considered include the applicant’s 1,000-word essay on a specific criminal justice system policy.

How to Apply

Submit academic transcript, current resume, and essay via the email address provided on the scholarship webpage.

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

12/31/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Open to high school, undergraduate and graduate students with a minimum 3.0 GPA who are interested in, or currently studying, criminal justice, forensics, or the law.

How to Apply

Fill out the online form on the scholarship website. Must include high school or college transcript and 500-word essay describing the applicant’s interest in their chosen field of study.

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

7/1/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicant must be a high school senior or freshman or sophomore in college studying criminal justice, law enforcement, law, or closely related field. My Alarm Center employees and extended family members are not eligible. Awards made based on the quality of a submitted essay on one of two provided topics.

How to Apply

Submit eligibility information and essay via the email address on the scholarship webpage.

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

6/1/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Open to students pursuing an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in a course of study related to a career in some aspect of park operations, such as criminal justice or police science.

How to Apply

Access the application form via the link on the scholarship website and return the form using the email address provided. Materials required include three letters of recommendation, a summary and listing of the applicant’s community service activities, and one-page essay on why the applicant is interested in winning the award.

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

3/31/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Applicant must be a Law Enforcement Explorer who is at least in 12th grade in high school and interested in pursuing a degree program in preparation for a career in the law enforcement field. Factors considered for the award include academic record, leadership ability, extracurricular activities, and quality of a personal statement on the topic “Why I want to pursue a career in law enforcement.”

How to Apply

Fill out the application form and mail it to the address provided. Must include essay, school transcript, three letters of recommendation, and black-and-white photo.

Amount

Varies

Deadline

5/3/21 (Annual)

Eligibility

Open to full-time students with at least one completed year of study at a four-year college or two-year community college (intending to transfer to four-year school), and majoring in criminal justice or closely-related discipline. Graduate and post-graduate students are also eligible.

How to Apply

Access the application on the scholarship webpage. Required materials include college transcript, letter of recommendation, and short essay describing the applicant’s involvement in a community project.

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

12/1/20 (Annual)

Eligibility

Available to students pursuing or planning to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or other major related to law enforcement, government, or political or social science.

How to Apply

Fill out the form on the scholarship website. Must include CV and a short personal statement explaining why the applicant is a good candidate for the award.

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.

To find out more on how you can fund your criminal justice degree, read through our guides on financial aid and student loan forgiveness.