Land received his Ph.D. in sociology and mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1969. After a year of postdoctoral study in mathematical statistics at Columbia University in New York City, he taught there and was a member of the staff of the Russell Sage Foundation for three years. Land was then successively a member of the faculties of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and the University of Texas at Austin before joining the Duke Sociology Department as Chairman in 1986. He served as Chair of Sociology from January 1986 to August 1997.
His main research interests are contemporary social trends and quality-of-life measurement, social problems, demography, criminology, organizations, and mathematical and statistical models and methods for the study of social and demographic processes. Land has done extensive research in each of these areas and has been elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (1978), the Sociological Research Association (1981), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1992), the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (1997), and the American Society of Criminology (2004).
He teaches Contemporary Social Problems (SOCIOL 11), Basic Demographic Methods and Materials (SOCIOL 215), and Advanced Methods of Demographic Analysis (SOCIOL 216).
His other interests include tennis, jogging (10 kilometers), and music.