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Forensic Science and Investigation Scholarships in 2021

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The cost of higher education in the U.S. is increasing, and so is student debt. Taking on debt to fund a college education used to be a direct path to social and financial advancement, but the latest studies show that student debt actually might hinder it. The good news is that help is out there for those who need it—and there are more scholarships available than ever before.

Those interested in studying forensic science will be pleased to find a wealth of scholarships to help fund their education. That said, winning an award takes work. It is a time-consuming process to assemble transcripts, records, and recommendations and write essays and personal statements—especially for students in the middle of the most critical years of their education.

Some scholarships may seem small in comparison to overall tuition rates and the amount of work required to apply, but the rewards add up. As all forensic scientists know, sometimes the little things provide the key to what you seek.

Common forensic science award requirements include a strong grade point average, letters of recommendation, and essays. Some ask applicants to have completed part of their undergraduate forensic science programs, while others are open to any year of study. There are also other types of scholarships that have been created for applicants from particular demographics, socioeconomic standing, or regional affiliation.

Here are 25 scholarships to consider in forensic science and investigation in 2021.

National Forensic Science Scholarships

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship & Excellence in Education Program

Established by Congress in 1986, this scholarship honors the legacy of Senator Barry M. Goldwater and his 56 years of service as a soldier and statesman. It is considered the most prestigious undergraduate award in America for research in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. While forensic science is not an explicitly stated pathway for this award, many related fields are, chemistry and biology. The Foundation plans to award approximately 450 scholarships in 2021.

  • Amount: $7,500 per year
  • Deadline: Last week of January 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Applicants must be fully matriculated sophomores or juniors, with a GPA of 3.0 or better, who are pursuing a research career in a major confirmed by the Goldwater Foundation. Applicants are nominated by a Goldwater campus representative at the academic institution they are currently attending.

Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program

This scholarship program was named after Larry Jennings and Tracy Ritchie who were both members of the ACFE. They were among 5 people who were fatally wounded when terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan fired upon their vehicle. They were en route to Union Texas’ Karachi office. Through this scholarship, the ACFE Foundation supports the education of those who are interested in pursuing a career in fraud examination.

  • Amount: $10,000, $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000
  • Deadline: February 1, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Applicants must currently be enrolled full-time at an accredited, four-year college or university. They must have a declared major or minor in criminal justice, business administration, accounting, or finance and demonstrate a desire to pursue a career in fraud examination or similar anti-fraud profession.

The ASCLD Scholarship Program

Formed in 1973 in Quantico, Virginia, the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) is a nonprofit professional society of crime laboratory directors and forensic science managers.

The organization’s mission is to foster professional interests, develop laboratory management principles, share forensic-based information, improve communication between crime laboratory directors, and encourage high standards of practice in the field. This scholarship is awarded to graduate and undergraduate students in forensic science on an annual basis as approved by the Board of Directors.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: February 15, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Students intending to enter the field of forensic science are the focus of this scholarship—those working in forensic labs are not eligible. Applicants must be in their third year as an undergraduate or any year of a graduate program in forensic science, forensic chemistry, or natural or physical science. Special consideration is given to applicants attending programs accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).

Gladys Carol Scholarship Program

Gladys Carol was extraordinarily intelligent. If she was allowed to attend a university or college, there is little doubt she would be running a fortune 500 company or have found a cure for a dreadful disease today. Instead, she got married and had children.

This scholarship program was established by Gladys’ daughter, Cheryl as a way to pay forward her mom’s sacrifice. The mission of this scholarship is to financially assist high school graduates, high school seniors, and current undergraduate students wanting to pursue a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) degree in the United States.

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: March 31, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: High school seniors, high school graduates, or current undergraduate students enrolled in a full-time STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) program at an accredited four-year college or university in the United States. Applicants must be United States citizens or permanent residents with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.75.

The AFTE Scholarship Program

The Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners (AFTE) is an international professional organization for firearm and tool mark examiners. It publishes a peer-reviewed scientific journal, hosts a variety of resources on its website, and holds an annual training seminar that acts as a forum for presentations, workshops, networking, and discussion. This scholarship is awarded annually to students who are seeking a career in Forensic Science.

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: April 1, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Undergraduate and graduate students from around the world working towards a forensic science degree may apply. Undergraduate applicants must be in their third year of study, and all applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or better. Preference will be given to candidates working on projects related to the examination of firearms and tool marks.

The Floyd E. McDonald Scholarship

The Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (SWAFS) is a nonprofit society of professionals who work in the scientific examination of physical evidence. Its goals are to connect forensic scientists, improve forensic techniques, exchange best practices, encourage academic research, and keep SWAFS members informed about innovations in the field.

The SWAFS Floyd E. McDonald scholarship exists to encourage studies that prepare them for a career in forensic science.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: April 1, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Applicants pursuing a career in forensic science through a degree in chemistry, biology, or natural science can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be of at least junior standing and have a 3.0 GPA or better. It is not open to relatives of board or scholarship committee members.

The Ellis R. Kerley Scholarship

This scholarship is in honor of Ellis R. Kerley, who devised new ways to positively identify and date skeletal remains in a process now known as the Kerley method. Dr. Kerley was often involved in the use of forensic anthropology for humanitarian purposes, like identifying the remains of soldiers who died in battle.

The Ellis R. Kerley Forensic Sciences Foundation was created to support further research in the field of forensic anthropology, in particular students pursuing a forensic anthropology education. The Kerley scholarship is granted based on merit—character, personal, academic—as shown through leadership and community engagement.

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: April 30, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Graduate-level students pursuing a career in forensic anthropology or biological anthropology can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be student members of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) and must be studying at a university that has a faculty member associated with either the AAFS or the American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA). Also, the applicant should be a graduate from an accredited undergraduate program and the applicant’s research goals should demonstrate a focus on Forensic Anthropology.

WIFLE Foundation Scholarship

WIFLE offers several scholarships to talented individuals to meet demands in the field of law enforcement and to foster the professional development of those engaged in Law Enforcement. It has scholarships available for members as well as nonmembers. WIFLE scholarships are awarded based on a student’s academic potential, achievement, and commitment to serving communities in the field of law enforcement.

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: May 1, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: To be eligible for the scholarship, the applicant must be a full-time student at an accredited four-year college or university majoring in Criminal Justice or related disciplines such as social sciences, public administration, computer science, finance, linguistic arts, chemistry, and physics. Applicants must be US citizens and have a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Antibody Scholarship Program

Thermo Fisher Scientific is the world leader in serving science. Its mission is to enable its customers to make the world healthier, cleaner, and safer. They do this by helping them accelerate life sciences research, solve complex analytical challenges, improve patient diagnostics, deliver medicines to market, and increase laboratory productivity.

The Thermo Fisher Scientific Antibody Scholarship Program awards scholarships to eligible life science students, to be used for the 2021–2022 academic year.

  • Amount: One $10,000 award and five $5,000 awards
  • Deadline: May 5, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Graduate and undergraduate students who will be attending an accredited US college or university having a declared major of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or a related life science field. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age must have a cumulative graduate grade point average of 3.0 or better.

Johnson-Whyte Memorial Foundation Fund

The International Association for Identification (IAI) has established this charitable foundation fund to promote research and education in the disciplines of forensic identification. This scholarship was established in memory of Robert L. Johnson of the U.S. Secret Service. He was instrumental in the formation of the International Association for Identification (IAI) Latent Print Certification Board and served as its first Chairman.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: June 1, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Applicants for this scholarship must be enrolled in a full-time course of study at a Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) accredited university or college. The degree must be related to employment in the field of Forensic Identification. Undergraduate applicants must be seniors or juniors and must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

The George H. Robinson Memorial Scholarship

The Chesapeake Bay Division of the International Association for Identification (CBD-IAI) is a nonprofit organization that acts as a regional arm of the oldest and largest forensic association in the world. They offer certification programs for various forensic science disciplines and host seminars and conferences in the area.

The George H. Robinson Memorial Scholarship is for the recognition of criminal justice and forensic science students. It is awarded to selected students, who receive a certificate and the scholarship grant.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: Contact organization for the 2021 deadline
  • Who Should Apply: Students pursuing a degree in forensic science or criminal justice are the focus of this scholarship. Applicants must have a 2.5 or better GPA, and undergraduate candidates must be of sophomore standing or higher. Awards are presented annually at the CBD-IAI’s Spring Educational Conference.

Regional & School-Specific Forensic Science Scholarships

The Paul B. Ferrara Graduate Scholarship

This Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) scholarship honors the legacy of Dr. Paul B. Ferrara, who served as the director of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, where, under his leadership, the Commonwealth of Virginia developed the first state laboratory capable of performing DNA fingerprint analysis. Dr. Ferrara was also a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he brought the forensic science program to national recognition. The scholarship is awarded to second-year students from the College of Humanities and Sciences, Department of Forensic Science, every year.

Criteria for selection include conducting research in forensic science or making contributions to the field, that impact a forensic science lab, forensic science professionals, or the field as a whole.

  • Amount: $1,000 (varies)
  • Deadline: February 15, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: This scholarship is specifically catered towards second-year VCU forensic science graduate students. Applicants must demonstrate either significant research or service contributions to the field, as well as leadership experience or potential. A 700-word essay explaining such contributions will be used in the selection process.

The Emily R. Murphy Graduate Scholarship

Another scholarship offered by the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is the Emily R. Murphy Graduate Scholarship which was established to memorialize Emily Murphy, a vibrant young woman with a promising future. Emily Murphy came to Richmond, VA for fulfilling her young adult dream of becoming a forensic scientist where she was awarded full tuition and a stipend to be the Department’s first graduate teaching assistant. Emily died in a car accident in Washington, DC at the age of 22.

This scholarship is available only to VCU graduate students in the Forensic Science Department.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: February 15, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: First-year graduate student in the Department of Forensic Science in the College of Humanities and Sciences, who shows evidence of substantive service to the community

Barnes W. Rose, Jr. and Eva Rose Nickol Scholarship Program

This scholarship fund was established in memory of Mr. Barnes Rose (a 1951 graduate of Albuquerque High School and a 1957 graduate of West Point) and in honor of Eva (a longtime New Mexico resident). This scholarship award is for an Albuquerque High School senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in one of the STEM majors: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics.

  • Amount: Up to $800
  • Deadline: April 1, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Albuquerque High School seniors pursuing a degree in one of the STEM majors. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.6. A personal essay describing career goals, SAT/ACF scores, and a minimum of one reference from an AHS math/science teacher should be submitted.

The George W. Chin Memorial Scholarship

The Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists (NEAFS) is a regionally-based professional society for forensic scientists. This scholarship honors George W. Chin, the self-proclaimed “God of Trace Evidence.” Dr. Chin co-founded the NEAFS Student Forum, where he taught students about the realities of the profession. He had a prolific career in forensic science that was defined through his work in the field and his dedication to mentoring young forensic professionals.

  • Amount: $2,000, as well as associate-level membership for one year in the NEAFS organization
  • Deadline: April 30, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Applicants must be enrolled in a forensic science program at a university in one of the following states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania. Undergraduate applicants must be of junior standing or higher. Application requirements include two letters of recommendation and a letter from the student describing their personal goals in forensic science, achievements, and why they should be considered for the award.

The George W. Neighbor, Jr. Memorial Scholarship

This second NEAFS scholarship honors George W. Neighbor, Jr., a trace evidence examiner and microscopist whose work overturned wrongful convictions and reinforced the need for quality assurance in forensic science laboratories. A former president of the NEAFS, George W. Neighbor left a legacy of mentorship—and many of his mentees have gone on to become laboratory supervisors and mentors themselves.

  • Amount: $1,750
  • Deadline: April 30, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Applicants must be enrolled in a forensic science program at a university in one of the following states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania. Undergraduate applicants must be of junior standing or higher. Application requirements include two letters of recommendation and a letter from the student describing their goals in forensic science, mention their achievements, and why they win the award.

The Mike Byrd Science Scholarship

Founded in 1989, the Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT) acts as a support organization for the law enforcement community of Miami-Dade, Florida. With a stated motto of “Serving Those Who Serve,” the organization assists officers and their families in times of need. This scholarship was designed for children of law enforcement professionals who want to pursue a career in forensics and crime scene investigation.

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: May 2021 (estimated)
  • Who Should Apply: Applicants must be the son or daughter of a sworn officer working for a law enforcement agency within Miami-Dade County. They must be high school or college students in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Monroe Counties, planning to study or currently majoring in biology, chemistry, forensics, pathology, or another CSI-related field. Candidates must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Gary Boccia Memorial Scholarship

John Jay College of Criminal Justice offers institutional scholarships for new students as well as those continuing their studies. One such scholarship is the Gary Boccia Memorial Scholarship. Gary Boccia, who received his bachelor’s degree in Forensic Science, passed away unexpectedly in October of 1998. The scholarship has been established by his family and friends, as well as colleagues who worked with him at the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s Northeast Lab.

This scholarship is awarded to a part-time or full-time Forensic Science student. It is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: November 2021 (estimated)
  • Who Should Apply: This Scholarship is open to both undergraduate as well as graduate Forensic Science students. To be considered, the student must have completed or in the process of completing an internship at an accredited laboratory of forensic science.

Michelle Lee Memorial Scholarship

Another scholarship offered by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice is the Michelle Lee Memorial Scholarship. Michelle Lee, who grew up in Queens, NY graduated with a BS in Forensic Science. She is an alumnus of John Jay College. She passed away on April 27, 2009, at just 24 years old. This scholarship for Forensic Science was established by her family and friends to celebrate her life, by providing students from underrepresented communities the opportunity to complete their education.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: November 2021 (estimated)
  • Who Should Apply: Forensic science students

Demographic-Specific Forensic Science Scholarships

Colonel Kathleen Swacina Scholarship

The Colonel Kathleen Swacina Scholarship has been established for honoring COL Kathleen Swacina’s (USA – Ret.) accomplishments and her affiliation with AFCEA (An educational foundation that is committed to supporting STEM learning). It is funded by the generous donation provided by COL Kathleen Swacina and LTC Daniel Swacina, USA (Ret.).

This scholarship recognizes one outstanding female student who has shown a potential to excel in college studies in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and attends college full-time in the state of Georgia.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: Applications will be accepted starting January 1, 2021. The deadline not yet announced.
  • Who Should Apply: Female applicants (undergraduate or graduate) enrolled as a full-time university or college student at an accredited institution in the state of Georgia majoring in a STEM-related area (such as computer engineering, computer programming, computer forensics science, computer science, cybersecurity, and computer systems, among others) of study.

CGCS-Bernard Harris Scholarship

Dr. Bernard Harris and the Council of the Great City Schools strongly believe that education is key to development, economic growth, and progress in the country. This scholarship is part of their efforts to support students of color who plan to pursue math and science-related degrees. It was named in recognition of Dr. Bernard A. Harris (a former astronaut, physician, and businessman).

Four scholarships will be awarded to two Black and two Hispanic students currently completing their senior year of high school (in a member district of the Council of the Great City Schools).

  • Amount: Four scholarships of $5,000 each
  • Deadline: Applications will be available in mid-January, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must be accepted for full-time enrollment at a four-year university or college pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. They must have a minimum 3.0 unweighted grade point average.

The Cheryl L. Wase Memorial Scholarship

The Society for American Archaeology is an international organization that has been dedicated to research about and interpretation and protection of the archaeological heritage. Cheryl L. Wase was an archaeologist who spent most of her career working in the high deserts of New Mexico.

This scholarship provides funding for undergraduate education in archaeology. It is specifically for women pursuing a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a specialization in archaeology.

  • Amount: Covers the cost of tuition or course fees and books for all classroom and field-based courses
  • Deadline: January 31, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Women who are residents of New Mexico pursuing a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a specialization in archaeology from a fully accredited university in the state of New Mexico. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.

The ACS Scholars Program

Founded in 1876 and chartered by the U.S. Congress, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific society. Its stated vision is to improve people’s lives through the power of chemistry, which is accomplished through public advocacy, scientific journals, community partnerships, continuing education, and scholarship programs.

The ACS Scholars Program was founded to provide support for students from underrepresented minority groups who want to pursue a career in chemical science. Just under $1 million are awarded to 350 students every year.

  • Amount: Up to $5,000 annually
  • Deadline: March 1, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Underrepresented minority groups (African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, or American Indian) who intend to major in chemistry or a related field (biochemistry, chemical engineering, chemical technology, environmental engineering, toxicology, etc.) are the focus of this scholarship. Applicants must be enrolled full-time at an accredited college and have maintained a GPA of 3.0 or better. Financial need is taken into consideration.

Joseph James Morelli Legacy Foundation

This Foundation is a charitable organization whose mission is to honor Joseph’s spirit. This foundation awards scholarships to students, who like Joseph struggle with dyslexia (pursuing a degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field), and empowers them to believe in themselves. Since 2014 the foundation has awarded over $150,000 in scholarships to more than 100 high school and college students.

  • Amount: $500 to $2,500
  • Deadline: March 17, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Applicants who are college or high school students with a learning challenge like dyslexia and are pursuing a career in STEM are invited to apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be pursuing a degree in a STEM field and must have a demonstrated learning challenge like dyslexia.

The Out to Innovate Scholarship

Offered by the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP), the Out to Innovate Scholarship is designed to promote academic excellence and the visibility of talented LGBTQ students in STEM careers. It is also intended to encourage students to be “out” in their professional life and support diversity in the science and tech workforce. Two awards are granted annually.

  • Amount: Two $5,000 scholarships
  • Deadline: June 5, 2021
  • Who Should Apply: Undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a STEM degree and who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or an active ally of the LGBTQ community are eligible for this scholarship. Applicants must have completed at least two years of higher education and maintain a 3.0 GPA or better.
Writer

Farheen Gani

Farheen Gani is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).