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Law and Society

Photo of Madi Short.



Madi Short gained a better understanding of how lawyers prepare their defenses by assisting them with their cases as an intern in a public defender's office. Read more here.

Majoring in Law and Society

Law and society is a major within Sociology that emphasizes concepts, theories, and research methods as applied to the study of law and law-related structures and processes. Coursework encompasses a variety of areas including deviant behavior, juvenile delinquency, the role of law in society, and family law. These areas of study are intertwined with other sociological concerns such as inequality, power, social organizations, social psychology, social change, race, gender, culture, and communication.


Upon completion of the program, Law and Society majors may choose to enter a field directly or indirectly-related to their major. Student experiences have included:

  • Disaster Program Specialist
  • Security/Probation Officer
  • Child Support Case Worker
  • Police Officer/Deputy Sheriff
  • Youth Development Specialist
  • Research Assistant
  • Dispatcher
  • Legal Assistant
  • Graduate or Professional School

Average Starting Salary: $42,704

All Purdue University College of Liberal Arts majors prepare students with the skills identified as contributing to professional success: communicating and listening well, an understanding and appreciation of diverse points of view, creative thinking and problem solving, a collaborative mindset, the ability to synthesize complex ideas and communicate them clearly, and a Boilermaker work ethic.

Law & Society majors develop skills that are applicable to many different careers. These skills may include, but are not limited to:

  • Analyzing and interpreting data to increase understanding of human social behavior.
  • Planning and conducting research to develop and test theories about societal issues such as crime, group relations, and poverty.
  • Writing reports containing research findings.
  • Data collection including observation, interviews, surveys, and review of documents.
  • Experience with database software, such as Microsoft Access or Oracle, to store, modify, and organize data.

Students interested in legal professions and occupations are encouraged to join the Purdue Pre-Law Club.

Law and Society majors may pursue a service learning course in their third or fourth year. Students complete an internship in Greater Lafayette, while meeting once a week to discuss relevant sociological theories and methods.

Law and Society majors may choose to enter into the workforce using the skills they have acquired at Purdue or to attend graduate school upon completion of their degree.  Past graduates have gone on to:


  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)
  • Office of the Indiana Attorney General
  • American Institutes for Research
  • La Porte County Sheriff’s Office
  • American Red Cross

Graduate School

  • University of Virginia School of  Law
  • Indiana University - Robert McKinney School of Law
  • Northwestern - Pritzker School of Law
  • Boston University School of Law

CLA Career Center