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I decided I wanted to learn a new skill and choosing between two of the most popular Online learning platforms out there, Skillshare and MasterClass wasn’t an easy choice. I didn’t really know what their differences were and which one would offer me the right online class.
I had plenty of unanswered questions like; What are their prices? Does either offer a free trial?, Is there arefund policy?, Who would be my instructor?
To answer all these questions and more, I’ve created an in-depth Skillshare vs MasterClass comparison.
Let’s dive right in!
Table of Content
Skillshare vs MasterClass Summary
Skillshare offers a premium subscription plan for individuals, which is billed annually at $167.88(working out at $13.99 a month). A free trial is included with the premium plan, but you will need to create an account and enter your card details to have access to the free trial, when the trial ends you will be billed for the annual plan. Skillshare also offers a plan for teams and businesses, costing $159 per user, per year giving users unlimited access to the 35,000 classes and more.
Similarly, Masterclass offers annual memberships for individuals, which you will need to pay in full once you register. You can choose between the Individual, Duo and the Family Plan. The Individual costs $180 (working out at $15 a month) the Duo $240 (working out at $20 a month) and finally the Family $276 (working out at $23 a month). MasterClass also has plans for teams and business, and the price will vary depending on the size of your team. To sum up, Skillshare focuses on creative topics with a pool of 35,000+ classes and MasterClass offers thousands of classes from 150+ celebrity and VIP instructors.
So let’s dive in, so by the end of this comparison, you’ll know whether Skillshare or MasterClass is the right platform for you.
Round 1: Which One Is More Popular?
As you see below in this Google Trends screenshot, when it comes to popularity, MasterClass is clearly more searched than Skillshare.
Skillshare and MasterClass popularity on Google Trends
MasterClass is a stand-out online learning platform, due to the fact it has famous faces like Yotam Ottolenghi and Alicia Keys teaching its classes. It was founded in San Francisco in 2014 by David Rogier, and currently it has thousands of classesacross 11 categories. Its classes are highly engaging and really well produced that leaves you with the feeling you are watching a cinematic Netflix show.
The Skillshare platform is a popular online learning platform for creatives and entrepreneurs. It is currently offering 35,000+ classes on topics like illustration, design, photography, video, freelancing and more. Its big pool of classes provide learners with an endless list of classes to enjoy – you definitely won’t get bored.
Even though google trends does give us an indication on which is the most popular online learning platform. It doesn’t answer which one is better for you the learner: Skillshare or MasterClass?
We kick things off with MasterClass taking the lead 0 – 1
Round 2: Ease-of-Use & Interface
If you are anything like me, then having an online platform that is easy to move around and has an intuitive layout makes the whole learning experience much more enjoyable. So, let’s find out which platform has the easiest system?
The registration process for Skillshare is really simple. You can create your account by simply adding an email account and a password. On top of that, you are also allowed to create an account using your Google, Apple or Facebook account. Once you are signed up you’ll need to add your credit/debit card, Sepa or Paypal account, this will activate the start of your free Skillshare Premium trial. You won’t be charged anything until the free trial ends. Keep in mind that if you don’t cancel before the end of your free trial you will be charged the annual fee.
Skillshare Start your free trial
MasterClass has a similar registration process. To create your account, you will simply add your email address and click on ‘Get Started’. You will then be asked to choose your annual membership: Individual, Duo or Family(see image below). Once you have selected your preferred annual membership, you will be taken through to add your card details. Finally, you will click to PLACE SECURE ORDER and your membership will begin immediately.
MasterClass Annual Membership Plans
Backend & Design
Once you are registered with Skillshare, you can begin enjoying its free trial and the 35,000+ classes it has to offer. Once you have chosen a category, you can begin browsing its classes. It offers a couple of helpful filters where you can pick the class length and sort the classes by most Popular and recently added (see image below).
Skillshare and MasterClass, have a very similar and intuitive interface for its video lessons. The layout of the video lessons from MasterClass are intuitively listed down the right side of the screen, making it easy to find what you want to watch.
MasterClass Video Lessons
To the right of that you can find My Notes, which helps to remind you of what you have learnt during the class and is like a modern-day notebook.
MasterClass adding notes to the lessons
Overall, both Skillshare and MasterClass have a really intuitive and user-friendly platform, not only making it easy to find what you are looking for but also an enjoyable learning experience.
The Skillshare and MasterClass app is available with all paid subscriptions, so you can learn on the go and at a time that suits you.
Winner: This is a tough one, as both Skillshare and MasterClass offer a really user-friendly and intuitive design.
So, I will have to kick things off by giving each platform a point each 1-2
Round 3: Skillshare Vs MasterClass Classes
When deciding on the right platform, it’s important that you ask yourself some important questions like: What class topics am I looking for? Is it important who the instructor of the class is? Can I read class reviews?
With a platform like Skillshare that is offering such a wide variety of creative classes (35,000+) it’s hard to know where to begin. Skillshare does try to help you by giving you suggestions of classes from Featured Classes, Popular Classes and Trending Classes to give you an idea of what other learners are enjoying.
Skillshare Featured and Popular Classes
My suggestion is to choose a Skillshare class that peaks your interest and read the Reviews from past learners, as this will give you a real insight into their experience and of what to expect from it (see image below). You can also read in the About tab a detailed teacher profile, so you have an insight into the instructor of the class and links to other classes he/she teaches.
MasterClass offers a smaller number of categories (11 in total), but that definitely doesn’t mean it’s lacking in good quality content. You can begin by selecting the categories which most interest you, and then MasterClass will show all the classes within this category.
Sadly, MasterClass doesn’t have any specific reviews for each class from past learners, which feels a shame and something that is lacking on the platform in general. I know as a user myself, I value reading reviews and opinions (even if some aren’t accurate).
Winner: So for this round, the point will have to go to Skillshare due to the fact it offers more than just well produced video lessons.
I wanted to highlight the most popular online classes published by Skillshare and MasterClass to give you an idea of what other learners have most enjoyed. The classes mentioned are based on reviews, ratings and my own experience.
Popular Skillshare Classes
1. Productivity Masterclass – Principles and Tools to Boost Your Productivity
Ali Abdaal teaches the principles and theories of productivity to help us live a happier and more productive life. This class is 1 hour 55 minutes and made up of 15 video lessons, and throughout the class are reflective prompts and questions to answer. I took this class myself and enjoyed it, you can read about my experience here.
Fundamentals of DSLR Photography is taught by Justin Bridges, Fashion and Portrait Photographer. This class is beginner-friendly, an introductory photography class where you’ll learn how to balance shutter speed manually, aperture, and ISO to achieve perfect exposure. You’ll also learn Justin’s go-to camera settings, must-have gear and recommendations on a budget.
3. iPhone Photography: How to Take Pro Photos On Your iPhone
iPhone Photography: How to Take Pro Photos On Your iPhone – Taught by Dale McManus, a Photographer and Videographer. This class is beginner-friendly and will teach you everything you need to be a professional digital photographer. In this course, you’ll learn plenty of tips and tricks that you can use during every day shooting to make your photos stand out from the rest. Some of what you’ll learn is how to take stunning photos by utilizing shot composition, how to create depth in your photography, how to professionally edit photos in Lightroom and much more.
4. Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design
Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design – Taught by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips, co-directors of the Graphic Design MFA program at MICA. This class is beginner-friendly and will give you a solid foundation and core principles of graphic design. You’ll learn and define 5 basic design principles, critique your work for effectiveness and balance, and apply each core concept in future projects.
5. Video Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro for Beginners
Video Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro for Beginners – Taught by Jordy Vandeput, a Filmmaker and Youtuber. This class is beginner-friendly, where you will learn how to take your creative ideas into amazing videos with Adobe Premiere Pro. You will learn a solid basis of Premiere Pro which allows you to perform basic edits, create custom graphics and texts, mix audio from speech, music, sound effects and much more.
The most popular MasterClass among learners is from Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Anna Wintour who gives unprecedented access to her world, teaching you how to lead with vision and creativity and without apology. Anna introduces her MasterClass by opening up about early experiences that shaped her leadership style today and takes you to her offices at Vogue and gives advice to upcoming talent and designers on how to succeed. The MasterClass is 2 hours 36 minutes and comprises 12 video lessons.
Another MasterClass that is popular among users is the Annie Leibovitz MasterClass on photography. In this MasterClass Annie brings you into her studio and onto her shoots to teach you everything she knows about portraiture. The MasterClass begins with her reflecting on her career and the power of telling stories through photographs, it then goes on to discuss Portrait photography, creating concepts, studio vs location. One of the more interesting video lessons is when Annie sits down with students to critique their work and give advice. The MasterClass is 3 hours 4 minutes and comprises 15 video lessons.
Brandon McMillan is an Emmy-winning host of ‘Lucky Dog’, he is an expert trainer dedicated to building relationships between humans and animals. Brandon shares his simple, effective training system to help you develop trust and control with your dog. From using commands and learning to improve your dog’s behavior along with a lifelong bond. His MasterClass is made up of 15 video lessons totaling 2 hours and 58 minutes.
Our next MasterClass comes from former FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss who was able to persuade terrorists, bank robbers and kidnappers to see things his way. He is now teaching you these strategies in everyday negotiations, whether you want to strengthen your relationships or increase your salary. Voss can help you develop your communication skills and give you the insight into human nature that most of us are unaware of. The MasterClass is 3 hours 4 minutes and comprises 18 video lessons.
5. Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking II: Restaurant Recipes at Homes
Next in our line-up is Gordon Ramsay, he teaches you Restaurant Recipes at Home. You will learn how to cook restaurant-inspired dishes with tips for time-saving prep to show stopping presentation. The MasterClass begins with an introduction and how his newest restaurant inspired recipes that will help you wow your next dinner guest. Then each of the video lessons focuses on a different recipe (13 in total) from Cauliflower steak to Hoisin Chicken and Raspberry Souffle. The MasterClass is 4 hours 13 minutes and comprises 15 video lessons.
Something that I get asked a lot is where can I find free courses? This is where I have to be honest, as free doesn’t always mean quality. So, my advice is if you are serious about learning something of value, it makes sense to pay for it. A free class isn’t for everyone.
Skillshare recently stopped offering free classes, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t another way to check out classes for free. When you sign up for Skillshare premium, you will get access to a 1 month free trial to explore its 41,000+ classes.
Skillshare 1 month Free Trial
MasterClass has recently started offering some of its video lessons for free. It’s only a small amount, but it does give you a taste of the platform and the high production involved in creating MasterClass classes (see image below). You can either enter your email address to be sent a some sample of classes, or you can watch some video lessons directly on the MasterClass platform.
MasterClass Free Lessons
Another way to get access to the full MasterClass platform is by signing up and paying for an annual membership. If you aren’t satisfied, you will be entitled to receiving a full refund within 30 days of purchasing. You will need to pay upfront, but be rest assured you will receive a money-back guarantee after the first month of purchase.
Winner: This is a tricky one as both platforms require you to enter your card details, but since Skillshare is an official 1 month. free trial the point will go to them.
Round 5: Available Languages At Skillshare & MasterClass
Alright, I promise this will be a short round.
Originally Skillshare focused on offering its classes in English, but recently, it has localized its platform in four additional languages including German, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
As for its English-speaking classes it offers subtitles in the localized languages, for anyone that English is their second language it can be helpful.
Available subtitles with Skillshare
Like Skillshare, the MasterClass audience is primarily English. It does offer a small handful of classes with Spanish and German subtitles, but when I say small handful I mean less than 10 classes.
Winner: As Skillshare has recently localized its platform with additional languages and offers subtitles, the point will have to go to them.
So, there we have it, Skillshare is storming ahead with 4-2.
Round 6: Production Quality Skillshare Vs MasterClass
If you are anything like me then staying engaged with a video lesson is an absolute must if I am going to continue watching or commit to taking an online course. It goes without saying that this isn’t always an easy task when some online learning platforms offer thousands of courses.
Skillshares video lessons vary in quality as anyone can create and submit a video class. The lower end of the spectrum are video classes filmed on a camera phones without a proper microphone that feel very amateur and hard to watch. But then you have the opposite end of the scale with Skillshare Originals that are well produced and an enjoyable watch.
MasterClass Video Classes
Even with some of Skillshares well produced video content it just doesn’t compare to the big budgets that MasterClass has in producing beautifully shot video classes. You can really tell within a few minutes that this is what makes MasterClass stand out from other platforms, and they have done an excellent job at it. I sometimes found myself being completely immersed in a video lesson, and it felt less like learning and more like watching a Netflix series.
To add here, that it’s not that Skillshare has bad video content, it’s just when it’s compared to MasterClass they are next level.
Winner: So I think it goes without saying MasterClass gets a point for this one.
The score now stands at 4-3 with Skillshare still taking the lead.
Round 7: How to Watch Skillshare and MasterClass
MasterClass and Skillshare platforms allow you to watch on your browser from your desktop or laptop, plus they both offer mobile apps. If you prefer to use the mobile apps to watch classes, you have the option to download video classes which you can then watch for offline viewing. It goes without saying that you must have a paid annual subscription to get access to both Skillshare and MasterClass apps.
The Skillshare app allows you to browse by category, search for classes, and save classes to watch offline for later. It has a 4.3 rating on Google Play and a 4.8 rating on the App Store, mainly positive reviews but with some mixed reviews. Similarly, the MasterClass allows you to browse by category, search for classes and save classes to your list to view later. Additionally, the MasterClass app also includes class workbooks and other resources that you can access and download. You can also participate in community discussions with other students and instructors through the app.
Winner: MasterClass gets the point for this one, with all the additional features you can access on the App.
The score now stands at 4 – 4.
Round 8: Skillshare Vs MasterClass Certificates
Certificates can be a great way to show future employers of your qualifications. Plus, they can be the motivator to commit and successfully complete the course. It’s important to remember though that not all certificates are verified, as that would mean they need to be issued by a credible institution.
Sadly, neither Skillshare nor MasterClass offer any sort of certificate when you successfully complete the class.
Winner: Since Skillshare and MasterClass don’t issue certificates, no one will get a point for this round.
Round 9: Skillshare Vs MasterClass Teachers & Community
For many of us, the person teaching the course or class is an important factor for whether we go ahead with it or not. Before making that decision you may have some questions you want answering like:
Does the teacher have qualifications to teach this subject?How many years of experience do they have? Will the instructor be giving me personal feedback?
Skillshare is a platform that allows anyone to teach its classes. So to become a Skillshare teacher, you just need a passion for a creative topic and looking to share that with a creative community. Now this does come with its downside, the fact that anyone can teach a course, meaning: Does my instructor at Skillshare have qualifications? Or How much experience do they really have?
As well as that, Skillshare does produce ‘Skillshare Original’ a collection of classes that are built in partnership with some well-known professionals and entrepreneurs. These classes are well produced and well received by the Skillshare community.
Skillshare does encourage its learners to share their thoughts and work with the community. And it does make a greater effort than other online learning platforms to emphasize the importance of community through learning.
In all honesty, MasterClass doesn’t have the most active community, it is used more as a place to ask and get answers to questions. If a community isn’t that important to you, then MasterClass would be a good fit.
Winner: Even though Skillshare has a more engaged community, the fact that MasterClass has top artists, leaders and icons teaching its classes the point has to go to them.
The score now stands at 4 – 5 to MasterClass.
Round 10: Skillshare Vs MasterClasses Offerings
I was curious to compare which platform offers discounted or even free memberships?
When you first sign up to MasterClass you will be given Guest Passes which you can share with your friends and loved ones. The Guest Pass will give them 14-day free access to the platform. They will need to add their debit/credit card details to access the guest pass, but can cancel before the free trial ends if they choose not to continue with the membership.
MasterClass seems to be doing a very active job of it and has claimed to have given out 718 free annual memberships to nonprofits, 150k + to currently or formerly incarcerated individuals and 315k + to underserved communities. You can get in touch and partner with MasterClass if your organization supports one of the communities that MasterClass focuses on helping.
Skillshare offers discounted rates on its memberships for nonprofits and schools or higher education institutions. You can get in touch for a consultation call and discuss with Skillshare how they are able to help.
Winner: MasterClass has to be the stand-out winner for this round in the way it is actively helping underprivileged communities and its belief in inspiring learning for all, whatever your situation.
MasterClass is out in front with the score at 4 – 6
Round 11: Is Skillshare or MasterClasses Support Better
Let’s be honest, something we all dislike is slow support and bad customer service, right?
Skillshare offers a standard Help Center page where you can find articles on most areas that you would need answers for. It is broken down into Students, Teachers and Skillshare for Teams, so you can easily navigate towards what you are looking for. You have the option to submit a ticket if you need further help.
Skillshare Help Center
MasterClass offers a more detailed Support page, plus it offers a chatbot which I know at times can be annoying, but this one is more helpful than others I have used in the past.
After purchasing a MasterClass subscription myself, I requested a refund (within 30 days of purchasing it) as I wanted to see how its customer service was. I must say, I was super impressed with how responsive and hassle-free it was. I submitted a request here and the refund was back in my account in 5 days.
Winner: Due to the fact MasterClass has a more detailed support page and the fact its customer service is really responsive and hassle-free, the point will have to go to them.
Things are getting exciting now, the score is 4 – 7 with MasterClass storming ahead.
Round 12: Which One Is Better for Businesses
Online learning isn’t just for individual learners, it is for teams and businesses who are wanting to upskill and motivate their team and employees. Skillshare and MasterClass are no different and both offer plans for teams and businesses.
Skillshare for Teams is designed for any team or businesses. Skillshare for Teams package costs $159 per user, per year. The plan is for a team or business at any stage, shape and size and comes with a variety of features.
Skillshare for Teams Package
Like Skillshare, MasterClass offers plans for Businesses, its pricing plans aren’t as transparent, and you will need to contact sales to choose the plan for your business. Depending on the size of your organization, discounts between 5-35% are made when you purchase more than 5+ annual memberships
Winner: This is a tricky one as both platforms offer a similar package for teams and businesses, so a point will go to both.
The score is close with MasterClass still out in front 6 – 8.
Round 13: Skillshare Vs MasterClass Pricing & Refunds
Now we have come to the final category and the most important for many, pricing. I am sure what you really want to know is: What’s actually included in my membership plan?Or Is there a refund available?
Both Skillshare and MasterClass offer subscription plans, let me explain a little more in the table below;
The Skillshare annual subscription plan comes with a free trial for you to try before fully committing to the platform. If you cancel before the free trial ends, you won’t be charged anything.
MasterClass offers 3 subscription plans, which, like Skillshare, you have to commit to annually. In case you do change your mind in the first month, you’ll have a 30-day money-back guarantee available. After submitting your request to MasterClass asking for a refund, you should recieve a reply from the MasterClass team within 48 hours, if accepted, you should receive a refund within 5-10 business days. In my experience is took just 5 days to receive the funds back into my account.
Winner: MasterClass will take this one, due to the fact it offers 3 subscription plans 30-day money-back guarantee.
So, that leaves us with MasterClass being crowned the winner of this comparison, with the final score at 6 – 9.
You may have got to the end of this comparison, so thank you for hanging around, as it turned into a bit of a long one in the end. You may now have realized that actually neither Skillshare nor MasterClass is right for you.
Either platform could be lacking in some areas, like a verified certificate, selection of classes or career advice to help you apply for your next job role. Let me quickly mention a few alternatives that you might consider.
If earning an accredited certificate is something you are looking for, then Coursera partners with 200+ Universities and Companies to produce high-quality courses, specializations, degrees and more. It collaborates with Universities like Stanford, Duke and Penn and Companies like Google and IBM.
Coursera an alternative to Skillshare and MasterClass
You can join Coursera for free, and it offers a variety of courses from individual courses, Guided Projects, Specializations, Professional Certificate, MasterTrack Certificate and Degrees. It also offers Coursera Plus a yearly or monthly subscription plan giving you access to 5,000+ courses.
Udacity is a platform that offers Nanodegrees (a type of learning program) on topics within digital skills. It works closely with top industry partners (like Google, Mercedes and Nvidia) to produce its content. Its content is designed to leave learners with job ready digital skills.
Udacity an alternative to Skillshare or MasterClass
For all students who enroll in any Udacity Nanodegree Program will have access to Udacity’s Career Services which include Personalized Review, Tips to Grow your network, resume optimization tips and more. It is important to keep in mind that learning with Udacity is both a time and financial commitment. Its Nanodegrees start at $399 and go up to $2000 depending on how fast you work.
edX offers 3,000+ Courses, Programs and Degrees from leading universities like Harvard, MIT and Berkeley. You’ll be able to earn verified certificates when you choose the paid verified track.
edX an alternative to Skillshare or MasterClass
As well as its paid verified track, you can choose the audit track, which means you can take the course for free, but its features are limited and, of course, you won’t receive a verified certificate at the end.
Udemy is one of the largest online learning platforms, offering over 213,000+ courses on pretty much any subject you could imagine. It offers some free courses and most of its courses are affordable.
Udemy an alternative to Skillshare or MasterClass
You will receive a certificate when you successfully complete a paid course, and you are entitled to a 30-day refund policy if you aren’t happy with the course. As well as individual courses, Udemy for business is for employees who want to help empower and develop the skills of its team, a few different plans are available.
Alright, after this long and detailed comparison, I am sure you’ll be able to pick what platform is best for you. To sum up Skillshare and MasterClass, I have highlighted each platform’s strengths and weaknesses for an easy takeaway on which platform may be right for you.
Free Trial: Skillshare offers a free trial on its premium, which gives you full access to the platform and all its classes.
Affordable: Its subscription plan isn’t expensive when you consider that you get access to its 35,000 classes where you can learn new skills or develop existing ones.
Interactive: Skillshare’s classes are interactive and engaging with projects and assignments that you have to submit.
Engaged Community: It’s engaged, and active community is a space where you can interact, ask questions and get feedback from your peers.
No Accreditation: Skillshare’s classes are not accredited by an external University or Organization as individuals design and create its classes. If an accreditation is what you need, it’s best to check out platforms like Coursera.
Instructor Quality: As individuals design and create Skillshare’s classes, there is a chance that the quality can vary from class to class. So please do your due diligence before signing up for a class.
Top VIP Instructors: MasterClasses big selling point, are its celebrity and VIP instructors who are experts in their respective fields.
High Production: Each MasterClass is beautifully put together and the quality of its video lessons are well produced and have a cinematic feel.
Engaging: Its classes will have you hooked, especially because each video lesson is no longer than 10 minutes long, so it’s easy to fit learning around a busy schedule.
Generous Refund Policy: After purchasing your MasterClass subscription plan, you’ll have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
No Accreditation: Masterclass classes are not accredited, whether you are looking for a professional certification or academic credit then you can check out courses at Coursera.
Limited Interactivity: Learning with MasterClass will mean a limited interaction with your VIP instructors, if you were thinking there was a chance of getting feedback from Gordon Ramsay or Anna Wintour, sadly its not the case.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing an online learning community, so if you still have some questions, please leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to help you.
23/03/23 – How to watch Skillshare and MasterClass
13/03/23 – Skillshare vs MasterClass Pros & Cons
28/02/23 – MasterClass Pricing & Refunds
07/02/23 – MasterClass Free Classes
23/11/22 – MasterClass 2-FOR-1 Offer banner
17/11/22 – Skillshare for Teams
19/10/22 – Skillshare vs MasterClass Popular classes
17/10/22 – Updated Skillshare Vs MasterClass Rounds
25/08/22 – MasterClass Guest Passes
17/08/22 – General Update
10/08/22 – MasterClass Popular Classes Update
04/08/22 – Skillshare Vs MasterClass Update
20/03/22 – Skillshare Vs MasterClass Offerings
10/03/22 – Pricing & Plans Update
23/11/21 – Skillshare Vs MasterClass Quiz
19/11/21 – Skillshare Vs MasterClass Published
Hey. I am Catherine and I have been working as a freelancer for many years now. In 2005, I graduated from a BA honours in Art & Design from BCU and then went onto complete a Master’s Degree in Teaching from UEL. The skills I gained from learning and teaching have led me to create Upskillwise, a place for learners like myself to find the best possible resources and courses to train and upskill themselves, either personally or professionally. If you have a question, please feel free to ask me anything or leave me a comment.
Great content! Keep up the good work!
Thanks Robert. Happy you are enjoying the content 🙂