PRODUCT REVIEW

SkillShare vs. MasterClass: The final verdict on which is better for you

Megan Morreale
November 3, 2021

Once you’ve made the decision to dive into self-paced online learning, you have a major choice to make.

You need to weigh up the two most popular online education platforms out there. It’s the battle of the online learning platforms:

Skillshare vs. MasterClass.

Asking which is better for you is a fair question, as there are a few distinct differences between the two.

In this comparative review, we’ll dive into the pros and cons, pricing, course platform features, and online course content for each to share our final verdict.

Disclosure: These reviews are reader-supported. We might earn a small commission if you purchase something through our site. Learn more.

Our Verdict

MasterClass is a better choice! By working with such high-quality course instructors, they ensure that you walk away from your course lessons feeling educated and entertained.

 

MasterClass Professionally produced courses every time

$15 /month
PROS
  • High-quality, professionally produced courses every time
  • Celebrity instructors
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • High-quality bonus materials like workbooks
  • Includes plagiarism
  • User-friendly with features like note-taking and bookmarking
CONS
  • No free trials
  • No class reviewswithout our link
  • Some courses accused of not being actionable or detailed enough

Skillshare Diverse content

$13.99 /month
PROS
  • Diverse content
  • Free trials available
  • Weekly update of fresh content
  • Teacher payment plans
  • Thousands of free courses available on very detailed topics
CONS
  • No instructor quality control
  • Some courses have poor video quality

What is MasterClass?

MasterClass is a place for lifelong learners to access online classes that they can take at their own pace. MasterClass consists of over 110 classes for students to choose from, taught by the best of the best in their field — instructors famous for being masters of their craft.

skillshare vs. masterclass what is masterclass
What is MasterClass

MasterClasses are all created by the instructors themselves and typically consist of about 20 video lessons that clock in at about 10 minutes each, or about 3.5 hours of video content for students to consume. This is just an average, though — for instance, Garry Kasparov’s MasterClass on chess is over seven and a half hours long.

Considered an up and coming force in online learning, MasterClass was founded in 2015 but raised $225 million in a new round of funding in 2021 to expand internationally. The latest round more than tripled their valuation, bringing it to $2.75 billion.

For a deep dive on everything MasterClass, check out our MasterClass review.

What is Skillshare?

Skillshare is also a self-paced online learning platform where students can choose any online class in a variety of subjects. There are thousands of courses on the Skillshare platform that cover a variety of topics, from basic sketching skills to learning the nitty-gritty of data visualization using tools like python.

The platform was founded by Malcolm Ong and Michael Karnjanaprakorn in 2010 and is marketed as an online learning platform for creatives.

skillshare vs masterclass what is skillshare
What is Skillshare

Skillshare’s courses are all instructor-produced and uploaded. They host 35k online courses with 12 million registered learners, 500 thousand paid subscribers, and 1 million reviews.

Many of them are quite intense — over 1k of those courses have more than 50 lessons. One even has 385. Since 2010, Skillshare has raised $136.8 million, $66 million of which was raised in 2020.

MasterClass vs Skillshare: Cost

The question people typically ask when comparing anything they’ll need to pay for is, “how much does it cost?”

You can get a Skillshare subscription for a little bit cheaper than a MasterClass subscription.

Here’s how it breaks down:

masterclass vs skillshare cost pricing

The surface price isn’t the only story — here’s a comparison of the details behind their prices, including what you get for your money and for how long:

masterclass vs skillshare cost pricing is it worth it

Price aside, the most important part of online learning is the quality of the course content and instructors.

MasterClass vs Skillshare: Instructors

MasterClass has built a reputation for recruiting the best of the best to create and produce their online courses. Their instructors are inarguably masters of their craft — and often famous household names.

You can learn the skills to write great fiction from Margaret Atwood, or gardening tips from the Gangsta Gardener, Ron Finely, or how to drop an electronic beat with tips from DeadMau5. MasterClass’s instructors are its strongest selling point.

Skillshare’s instructors typically have a lot of practical experience in their fields, but there’s no criteria or approval process to publish a course. Anyone can produce a Skillshare class, which means the quality of courses can vary dramatically.

What topics are covered in MasterClass and Skillshare?

The sheer amount of Skillshare courses offered means that you can absolutely find a larger variety of course content with them than with MasterClass.

But, in the past few years, MasterClass has almost doubled the number of courses offered, and now has options in the following categories:

masterclass vs. Skillshare topics
  • Food
  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Business
  • Writing
  • Home & Lifestyle
  • Wellness
  • Design & Style
  • Sport & Gaming
  • Science & Tech
  • Community & Government
  • Music

Skillshare’s thousands of classes are categorized as the following:

  • Business, Politics & Society
  • Design, Photography & Fashion
  • Writing
  • Film & TV
  • Music & Entertainment
  • Sports & Games
  • Culinary Arts
  • Science & Technology
  • Lifestyle
  • Animation, design, illustration
  • Lifestyle
  • Business
  • Photo & Film
  • Writing
  • Social Media, Instagram, Facebook

MasterClass lacks only the photography and social media categories but offers courses in both subjects in categories in its business, arts, and entertainment sections.

In our opinion, taking a look at the top three courses on each platform helps to bring the differences between the two platforms to life.

We selected Skillshare’s top courses based on the all-time number of enrolled students. MasterClass doesn’t offer this data publicly, so we chose the first three classes under the “Most Popular” category on the homepage of their website.

Skillshare

The most popular classes on the Skillshare platform are on very specific topics like digital illustration or iPhone photography.

1. Digital Illustration: Learn to Use Procreate

Taught by Jarom Vogel, a freelance illustrator, this course teaches Skillshare students to use Procreate, an award-winning painting app for digital illustration.

skillshare vs masterclass top courses digital illustration
Skillshare Digital Illustration

2. Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design

Taught by Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, this course teaches the foundations of graphic design.

skillshare vs masterclass top courses graphic design foundations
Skillshare graphic design foundation

3. iPhone Photography: How to Take Pro Photos On Your iPhone

Taught by Dale McManus, a professional photographer, videographer, and award-winning YouTuber, this Skillshare class teaches students how to get the most out of taking photos with their phones.

skillshare vs masterclass top courses iphone photography
Skillshare iPhone photography

As these top courses showcase, Skillshare classes are often quite specific. You’re not just learning about graphic design, you’re learning how to use Procreate, a specific graphic design tool. You’re not just learning the principles of photography, you’re learning to apply your iPhone to the task.

These detailed deep dive courses are often compared with what some consider more high-level overviews from MasterClass instructors.

MasterClass

The top MasterClass courses cover a wide range of categories, from negotiation skills to tips to follow in the kitchen.

1. Chris Voss Teaches the Art of Negotiation

Former FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator Chris Voss teaches MasterClass students negotiation skills that have literally meant the difference between life and death in his career.

 skillshare vs masterclass top courses chris voss
Chris Voss’ MasterClass

2. Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking

Michelin star chef and well-known television personality Gordon Ramsey teaches the basics of how to navigate some of the most well-known dishes and cooking strategies in your home kitchen.

skillshare vs masterclass top courses gordon ramsay
Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass

3. Thomas Keller Teaches Cooking

Award-winning chef and #1 New York Times bestselling author with more than 1.5 million copies of his cookbooks in print, Thomas Keller, teaches cooking 101 for aspiring home chefs.

skillshare vs masterclass top courses thomas keller
Thomas Keller’s MasterClass

As shown by MasterClass’s top courses, the platform known for its celebrity instructors delivers. Their courses offer a more complete overview of a specific craft as opposed to deep dive into specific strategies, like the use of a specific technology or tool to accomplish your goals.

MasterClass vs Skillshare: Features

When it comes to the use of the actual platforms themselves, they’re pretty similar and offer many of the same features.

To demonstrate, we’ll take a closer look at beloved YouTuber Temi Danso’s recently released Skillshare class on creating colored pencil portraits, and Gordon Ramsay’s Cooking II course offered on MasterClass.

Here’s what it looks like to view a video lesson on Skillshare:

skillshare vs masterclass course example temi danso
Skillshare course example: Temi Danso

Here’s what it looks like to view Gordon Ramsay’s course on MasterClass:

skillshare vs masterclass course example gordon ramsay
MasterClass course example: Gordon Ramsay

Both offer many of the same features — a wide view of the lesson video, an overview of the course lessons, access to supplemental materials, and the ability to take notes. Here’s how the platforms stack up against one another when it comes to features:

masterclass vs skillshare features

Let’s take a look at how some of the most important course features stack up against one another.

Workbooks

Workbooks are downloadable PDFs that act as supplements for courses. Here’s an example from Gordon Ramsay’s Masterclass, packed with recipes for students to try at home:

This example workbook is from Tami Danso’s Skillshare course, which is a shorter supplemental PDF with a detailed supplies list and some exercises for students to complete:

Both workbooks are valuable for students in different ways — Gordon Ramsay’s workbook acts more like an interactive textbook for students to follow along during class, whereas Temi Danso’s downloadable PDF is more like a reference sheet.

Community Forums

Both MasterClass and Skillshare offer students the chance to interact with other students in the same course through the use of community forums. This is what the community homepage looks like for Gordon Ramsey’s MasterClass:

skillshare vs. masterclass gordon ramsay community forum
Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass Community Forum

MasterClass’s community forums are hosted on a separate page from the course, whereas Skillshare’s forums live directly under the course video lessons as a comment section:

skillshare vs. masterclass temi danso community forum
Temi Danso’s Skillshare Community Forum

Both offer students the ability to ask questions and interact with one another, and in Skillshare’s case, teachers, on a regular basis.

Note-taking

Finally, both platforms offer students the opportunity to take and save notes within the platform itself. Both features are incredibly similar, except to find Skillshare’s notes, you have to press a pretty discreet icon on the video screen itself:

skillshare vs. masterclass temi danso Note Taking
Temi Danso’s Skillshare Note Taking

MasterClass’s note-taking screen is automatically displayed beside your video when you open your lesson, ready for you to use right away.

skillshare vs. masterclass gordon ramsay Note Taking
Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass Note Taking

Neither platform allows access to note-taking on their mobile app — you must be logged in with a desktop browser.

Skillshare vs. MasterClass: Pros and cons

Here’s how two of the most popular online learning platforms stack up against one another through high-level pros and cons:

masterclass vs skillshare pros and cons

Pros

Cons

MasterClass

  • High-quality, professionally produced courses every time
  • Celebrity instructors
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • High-quality bonus materials like workbooks
  • User-friendly with features like note-taking and bookmarking
  • No free trials
  • No class reviews
  • Some courses accused of not being actionable or detailed enough

Skillshare

  • Diverse content
  • Free trials available
  • A weekly update of fresh content
  • Teacher payment plans
  • Thousands of free courses available on very detailed topics
  • No instructor quality control
  • Some courses have poor video quality

The final verdict: Which one is the right pick for you, MasterClass or Skillshare?

If you’re a lifelong learner looking to consume a variety of online courses over time, MasterClass is a better choice. By working with such high-quality course instructors, they ensure that you walk away from your course lessons feeling educated and entertained every time you open the app.

If you’re looking to take a very deep dive into a specific subject (like, for example, how to use specific platforms for a technical job), Skillshare is a better choice. Both platforms are great compliments to one another if a subscription to both is in the budget.

Start learning with a MasterClass or Skillshare subscription

There are so many benefits to lifelong learning. You too can design your home like a professional, start an urban garden, beat your friends in Thursday night poker every time, or show off a new magic trick at the next party you attend.

Get started with a Skillshare or MasterClass subscription today and unlock your journey towards lifelong learning, online, at your own pace.