The University of Central Florida is gearing up to offer its first interdisciplinary dual master’s degree program for students interested in studying both public administration and criminal justice.

Launching next spring, core classes from the 42-credit-hour master of public administration and the 36-credit-hour master of criminal justice degrees will be combined into a 51-credit-hour dual program. A full-time student could earn both master’s degrees in two and a half years.

“The two fields are so interconnected in terms of public service, so it makes sense for someone in criminal justice to have good public service management skills that are at the core of public administration, too,” said Nasrin Lakhani, UCF’s public administration’s director of advising. “There’s a whole host of things that require both sets of knowledge.”

Graduates of the program will be primed for careers in local government, for example.

“There always are jobs in the local government because they are growing leaps and bounds, especially in Orlando,” Lakhani said. “Orlando government entities are our community partners, and they desire to see more applicants with this kind of degree and knowledge.”

Federal and state governments, plus nonprofit organizations, higher education and private-sector companies that align with criminal justice and public administration also are possible career paths for graduates. Potential jobs include public policy analysts, security directors, budget/finance directors, public safety communications managers, city/county administrators and law enforcement administrators, among others, program information from the College of Health and Public Affairs showed.

Plus, the number of jobs this degree will prepare students for is on the rise. Finance director jobs, for instance, are projected to grow 7 percent through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of communications-related jobs also are expected to rise 9 percent.

The program is designed so students take the core classes of each discipline, then select electives and a capstone course that aligns with their preferred area of concentration. Lakhani also noted that the program is a bargain because the two degrees can be earned for far fewer credit hours than if students studied them independently of each other.

Applications for the program’s inaugural class are due Dec. 1. The program is offered completely online, and students also have the option of some in-person classes and a full-time or part-time schedule.