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What is the Law, Societies, and Justice major?

Law, Societies and Justice (LSJ) is an interdisciplinary social science major at UW committed to challenging students to understand the forms and functions of law in an increasingly globalized world. The program engages students in critical and comparative examination of legal institutions, principles, practices, and power around the world, with a particular emphasis on the role of rights in shaping contemporary political and legal conflicts.

The LSJ major is an excellent fit for transfer students as it is only 11 courses (55 credits), all of which can easily be completed in two years with room to spare for electives, study abroad, or a double major or minor. LSJ provides opportunities for research, service learning, study abroad, learning experiences inside local prisons, alumni mentorship, and career development. 

LSJ students learning alongside inmates in the innovative mixed enrollment course at the Washington State Reformatory. Photo credit: UW Today

What’s unique about LSJ?

  • Interdisciplinary major: The LSJ curriculum draws from a wide variety of social science disciplines and our faculty have PhDs in a variety of fields from Sociology to Political Science to Geography. What unites all LSJ courses and faculty is their emphasis on socio-legal studies—the role of law in society and everyday life.
  • Small class sizes: LSJ is an intentionally small major, with a total number of 225 students. Upper division courses are capped at 25 students, so you are guaranteed to get to know your professors and fellow majors.
  • Individual and group research opportunities: Assist faculty with their research or conduct your own project with faculty support. Recent undergraduate research projects include analyzing sentencing data to determine how many people are serving life sentences in Washington State, interviewing juvenile offenders being housed in adult detention centers, and studying the impacts of deportation on families in Washington.
  • Required internship: All students complete a 100 hour internship at a local community organization or government agency focused on human rights or the legal system. Recent placements include the US Attorney’s Office, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, New Beginnings Domestic Violence Shelter, and many more!
  • Innovative teaching approaches: LSJ’s partnership with University Beyond Bars enables LSJ majors to travel to the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe, WA and take an upper-division seminar course taught by an LSJ Professor. Half the students in the course are LSJ majors and the other half are inmates. Other opportunities include a prison-based book club and volunteering at the prison’s weekly study hall.  

What are the admission requirements for LSJ?

All students must complete a minimum of one quarter at the UW-Seattle campus prior to applying to the LSJ major. We do not accept direct transfer applicants. LSJ is a capacity-constrained major that accepts applications from current UW students every Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarter. To be eligible to apply to LSJ, students must have completed an English Composition course (which can be transferred in to UW) and one LSJ core course, which must be taken at UW. Applicants must also have a minimum cumulative UW GPA of 2.5 or higher.

When making admissions decisions, the LSJ Admissions Committee considers: class standing, cumulative UW GPA, LSJ GPA, grades in writing-intensive courses, overall grade trends, ability to complete LSJ major requirements and general education requirements on-time, writing ability, specific interests in the LSJ curriculum, understanding of the LSJ curriculum and major, and motivation for pursuing LSJ.

How is LSJ different from a criminal justice or pre-law major?

LSJ is an interdisciplinary liberal arts major housed in the social science division of the College of Arts & Sciences. Our program does not offer traditional technical/pre-professional criminal justice courses but instead focuses on the discipline of socio-legal studies—the role of law in everyday life. However, our alumni go on to a wide variety of careers including careers in the policy, legal, social services/non-profit, government, business, and traditional criminal justice fields. LSJ is also not a pre-law major because our curriculum aims to prepare students for a wide variety of careers. While LSJ graduates are still well prepared for law school, they are equally well prepared for a career outside of the legal field.

How can transfer students prepare for the LSJ major?

Transfer students interested in LSJ should focus on satisfying the UW’s general education requirements and Areas of Knowledge requirements prior to transferring, thus leaving their two years at UW to focus on the LSJ major. LSJ emphasizes writing and analytical thinking, so students with a strong foundation of social science and writing-intensive courses in Political Science, English, Sociology, Anthropology, History, and/or Philosophy are better prepared for LSJ. LSJ does not accept criminal justice or paralegal courses as transfer credit, so it is best to focus on the traditional liberal arts disciplines prior to transfer.

LSJ Advisers are here to help!

LSJ Advisers are always happy to meet with prospective transfer students, including during the summer. Simply schedule an advising appointment online or if you have a quick question, email us at