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The University of California, Los Angeles, is planning a major expansion in the online certificate and graduate degree markets that it hopes will reach as many as 15,000 students by early next decade.

Wayne Smutz, dean of continuing education and UCLA Extension, said in a statement that UCLA is in the planning stages to launch UCLA Global Online, which will offer for-credit courses and programs, as well as certificate programs from the university’s extension arm. Smutz will serve as UCLA Global Online’s founding dean.

“The programs and courses will focus on the needs of Los Angeles’s largest industries such as entertainment, aerospace, health care and advanced manufacturing in order to develop and attract talent to our community,” Smutz said. “The goal is to expand and improve ease of access to UCLA’s educational offerings, and we hope to reach upwards of 15,000 learners in the next five years.”

The news was first reported by The PIE News.

UCLA already offers online courses for its registered undergraduate students -- its online schedule of classes lists about 50 planned for this fall -- as well as to the general public through its Summer Sessions program. At least one of the university's schools -- the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science -- offers online graduate degree programs.

Details surrounding UCLA Global Online’s launch are still being hashed out, Smutz said. The university expects to provide more information early next year.