MasterClass vs. Skillshare: Which Site Better Fits Your Learning Goals?


Apples are better than oranges. I joke: the whole point of the phrase “comparing apples to oranges” is that you can’t directly compare the two. Sure, both are fruits, but they serve different purposes. Apples are better suited for making cider; Oranges are better for juicing and mixing with champagne or vodka. I suppose you could eat them too.

My point is that directly comparing Skillshare and MasterClass is difficult, and a more fruitful exercise would be to point out how they differ and under what conditions you might choose one. Yes, both nominally offer online courses, but the two companies use the word “class” in different ways. And they’re both very good at what they do. They are both Editors’ Choice winners for online learning services. But what they are to attempt to do is very different.

I would compare Skillshare to a local community college. It’s a great place to stop by and learn something new, especially if you’re looking for hands-on skills.

The MasterClass, on the other hand, is more of a renowned guest lecture series organized by a university. You will learn a little about it how doing something, sure, but the focus is almost on most why You might want to do it – the philosophy behind it.

MasterClass has a collection of brilliantly presented courses taught by renowned leaders in every field. But that doesn’t mean it’s better than Skillshare in every way. There are specific reasons why you might spend money on one or the other. Let’s take a closer look.

MasterClass has courses taught by A-listers in their fields.

Price: Which is cheaper, MasterClass or Skillshare?

MasterClass costs a lot more than Skillshare. However, cost and value are not necessarily the same thing.

Skillshare offers a free version with ads and a limited selection of courses. Over the years that PCMag has reviewed Skillshare, the pricing for the paid version has changed frequently. As of this writing, a premium membership costs $29.88 per year. There’s also a 30-day free trial of the premium version, but you’ll need to add your payment information to get it.

MasterClass does not offer a free version. MasterClass membership starts at $180 per year for the individual plan, which runs on a single device with no offline support. MasterClass Duo supports two devices with offline support and costs $240 per year. A family plan works on eight devices and costs $276 per year. Note that all billing is annual – monthly payment is not possible. There is no free version of MasterClass, but you can get a free trial if someone with a MasterClass account sends you a special link. However, this trial still requires payment details. There are some free live coursesbut they don’t really represent the quality or tone of the paid courses.

winner: Skillshare

Skillshare page when looking for courses on running an Etsy shop

Skillshare courses typically teach skills related to creative fields and creative businesses.

Course selection and composition

Skillshare focuses on teaching skills, with a real focus on the creative space. It includes everything from graphic design to animation to creative writing. Skillshare also touches on skills related to building and nurturing businesses in the creative world, with courses on topics such as running an Etsy shop.

Skillshare creates some courses in-house, commonly referred to as Skillshare Originals. These courses usually have prominent lecturers and high production qualities. However, the majority of the courses offered on Skillshare are uploaded by independent instructors. They differ more in quality.

Lessons on Skillshare typically last around an hour or less and are broken up into shorter chunks. You can complete these classes at your own pace, typically taking breaks to work on exercises, or you can watch an entire class from start to finish on your lunch break.

MasterClass, on the other hand, focuses less directly on specific skills. The instructors are all A-listers in their fields, and some are household names. It is very valuable to hear these celebrities talk about their individual workflow and philosophy. Along the way, you’ll learn some tips, and some courses might even give you assignments. However, the focus is on watching or listening to someone who is the best in the world at something demonstrate those skills and give you tips.

MasterClass courses are much longer than Skillshare’s. A 20 hour MasterClass is not uncommon, although it is broken down into sections and the website makes it easy to keep track of where you left off. It usually makes sense to complete a course over several days or weeks.

Winner: Tie. These two services try to do completely different things, and each does a good job.

MasterClass Jane Goodall class with downloadable supplemental materials

MasterClass courses include supplemental materials that you can download.

Which service has better supplemental materials?

You’d be forgiven if after watching a MasterClass commercial you thought you were getting feedback on your songwriting from Saint Vincent or your stand-up comedy routine from Steve Martin. The truth is that you will not interact with any of the “instructors” in this ministry – you will mostly just watch them.

However, the videos are not everything. Each MasterClass course offers a PDF eBook that summarizes, and in some cases supplements, many of the points made in the course. The booklets can be 50 pages long. Some of the courses encourage you to practice a skill and some even have worksheets. You can keep these supplemental materials after your subscription expires so that you can refer to something years later if you keep it.

Skillshare is more scattershot. Some courses offer supplemental downloadable materials. Some offer projects to edit and upload. The idea is that your “classmates”, meaning anyone else who happens to be in the class, will comment and give you feedback. In some cases, the teacher can even comment, although in practice this rarely happens. It all boils down to more interaction than MasterClass offers, but that’s not saying much.

It’s hard to find a clear leader here. If you want a polished summary of the videos you watch, MasterClass is better. If you’re hoping for projects to work on while learning a skill, Skillshare courses might be a better fit.

Winner: Tie

Master class with Shonda Rhimes

MasterClass has stunning production values.

Production quality of MasterClass vs. Skillshare

Skillshare videos vary widely in video quality. The worst user-submitted courses are filmed with a webcam on the instructor’s desk. The best courses have a much higher polish, especially the Skillshare Originals.

But even the best Skillshare videos don’t come close to MasterClass courses, all of which are extremely well produced. It’s hard to talk someone interesting for 20 hours. You have to do a lot of pre-production planning in addition to post-production editing to make it work. MasterClass courses accomplish this feat, which must cost a fortune.

That’s not to say that the quality of Skillshare is bad. It’s just that MasterClass is spectacular.

Winner: master class

Skillshare course showing how to paint radishes and the UI with subtitles and translation options

Skillshare has a well-designed user interface and video player on web and mobile apps.

How to View Skillshare and MasterClass (Apps and Access)

MasterClass and Skillshare both work in your browser if you’re on a computer, and both offer mobile apps. The mobile versions of both apps make it easy to download videos to watch offline, provided your subscription allows it. Skillshare has a button to download an entire course to your mobile device, while MasterClass only offers the single video feature.

MasterClass also offers apps for all major Smart TV platforms. Skillshare doesn’t have dedicated smart TV apps, but you can use Chromecast or Airplay on your mobile device to cast the videos to your TV. The MasterClass website and apps are very clean making it easy to find what you are looking for. Skillshare is a little more cluttered and a little harder to navigate. It’s close, but I give MasterClass the edge in this category.

Winner: master class

And the winner is…

MasterClass wins, but it’s not a blowout! MasterClass has two categories: Production Quality and How to Watch. Skillshare won only one category: Prize. The other three categories were ties because in many ways it is impossible to directly compare these two services. They’re just trying to do different things.

If you want to learn a specific skill, start with Skillshare. If you want to see some of the best lecture-style courses ever created, taught by world-renowned instructors, head straight to MasterClass. But you can’t go wrong with that either, if you really take the time to complete the courses.

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