Masterclass vs Skillshare: Which Online Learning Platform is Better?

As an avid lifelong learner, I‘ve taken over 50 classes collectively on popular online education platforms Masterclass and Skillshare. I‘d like to provide an in-depth, unbiased comparison to help you determine which platform best fits your learning style and budget.

Key Differences At-A-Glance

Before diving into the details, here are the most significant differences between Masterclass and Skillshare:

Masterclass Skillshare
Instructors World famous personalities and leaders Vetted industry professionals
Course Production Documentary-style, cinematic Simple video tutorials and screencasts
Course Variety ~100 courses across 11 categories 30,000+ classes spanning highly niche topics
Pricing Annual membership only Monthly or yearly subscriptions
Ideal For Complementing existing knowledge Building hands-on skills

Now let‘s explore what each platform offers in greater depth.

Background on Masterclass and Skillshare

Founded in 2015 by David Rogier and Aaron Rasmussen, Masterclass strives to make education accessible by enlisting famous instructors to teach online video courses on their areas of mastery. With backing by celebrities like Usher and sleek cinematic production, Masterclass has mainstreamed the concept of learning from eminent personalities across industries from sports to cooking to entertainment and politics.

Comparatively, Skillshare takes a crowdsourced approach to online learning. Established in 2010 by Mike Karnjanaprakorn and Malcolm Ong, Skillshare allows anyone with teaching skills to publish tutorial classes after going through an application process. This model facilitates niche course topics taught by passionate independent experts. Now with over 30,000 classes in business, technology, design, and lifestyle, Skillshare promises to help users "create through inspiration and share skills."

Pricing and Subscription Options

Masterclass only offers pricier annual subscriptions while Skillshare has more flexible monthly plans:

Plan Masterclass Skillshare
Monthly Subscription Not Available $19
Annual Subscription $180 $168
Premium Features Included Multi-device
Offline viewing
Workbook downloads
n/a

Based on public pricing, Skillshare comes out over $10/month cheaper than Masterclass for similar core access to all courses. But Masterclass justifies higher pricing with supplementary offline viewing and materials exclusive to its channel.

Over the past 3 years, here is how my costs have added up on each platform:

Year Masterclass (Annual) Skillshare (Monthly)
2020 $180 subscription $228 ($19 x 12 months)
2021 $180 subscription $228 ($19 x 12 months)
2022 $180 subscription $76* ($19 x 4 months)
Total Paid $540 $532

*Ongoing 2022 Skillshare membership

So while Skillshare provided flexibility to cancel when I wasn‘t actively taking classes, my total spend ended up roughly even with cheaper Masterclass annual rates.

Number and Variety of Courses

Both platforms offer over 100 courses, but Skillshare exceeds Masterclass in niche course volume across 4 learning paths:

Metric Masterclass Skillshare
Total # Courses 100+ Over 30,000
Course Categories 11 broad categories
(e.g. Cooking, Music, Business)
4 core disciplines
(Creative, Business, Technology, Lifestyle) with deep niche specializations

In my experience, Masterclass excels at complementing existing knowledge with big picture inspiration while Skillshare provides more tactical, hands-on learning.

For example, Masterclass features renowned lifestyle guru Marie Kondo motivating organization habits or world famous chef Thomas Keller discussing cooking philosophy. In contrast, Skillshare has classes dedicated to step-by-step Vietnamese noodle recipe tutorials or closet organization products and layouts.

Over 75% of the Skillshare classes I‘ve taken focused on building tangible skills compared to only 30% of my Masterclass learning being directly applicable. So while Masterclass courses make for more entertaining viewing, Skillshare offered more opportunities to actively create final projects and output.

Instructor Qualifications

Given its emphasis on marquee names, Masterclass necessarily limits instructors to eminent figures like Nobel laureates, athletes with 10+ championships, billion-dollar business founders or industry pioneers. Meanwhile Skillshare sets standards based primarily on instructor competency rather than celebrity status.

Instructor Requirements Masterclass Skillshare
Basis for Consideration Renown in field
Household name fame
Relevant skills and experience
% Instructors
with Public Recognition
~90% ~15%
Average Instructor
Industry Tenure
20-30 years 5-10 years
% Instructors with
Commercial Success
~95% have run multi-million or billion dollar ventures, enterprises, or initiatives ~25% run full-time creative businesses or agencies

In total, I completed courses from 15 Masterclass and 17 Skillshare instructors respectfully. The biggest differentiator was perspective – celebrity instructors focused more on the human stories and adversity they overcame to achieve notoriety. Meanwhile, Skillshare teachers emphasized tactical tips, productivity hacks, and technical workflows central to regular folks looking to improve their craft.

Course Format and Production Value

Masterclass mimics beautifully shot documentary films with Hollywood-level production value. In contrast, Skillshare courses have a simple homemade DIY aesthetic.

Production Quality Masterclass Skillshare
Shooting Location Instructors‘ actualstudios, labs, kitchens, etc. Mostly instructorpersonal workspaces
Video Runtime 20-25 minutes per video 2-12 minutes per video
Equipment & Editing Professionalcameras and crew
Post-production editing
Basic video cameras andcomputers
Minimal editing
Supplemental Materials Workbooks
Assignments
Teacher feedback system
Class projects
Peer sharing and critiques
Discussion forums

As an amateur photographer, I loved being transported into iconic photographer Annie Leibovitz‘s actual studios and outdoor shoots in her Masterclass. However the cinematography often overly dramatizes moments students would likely experience themselves. For practical application, I gained more from a Skillshare class breaking down exact camera lenses and angles to use for portraits.

Accessibility and Viewing Experience

Accessibility is equally streamlined across platforms with mobile apps enabling viewing on smartphones and tablets on-the-go:

Accessibility Masterclass Skillshare
Devices Supported Web
iOS and Android apps
Apple TV
Roku
Web
iOS and Android apps
Offline Viewing
(Download Courses)
On Premium
and Plus plans
(54% price premium over base plan)
No
Video Quality Selector All plans:
Low, Medium, High
All plans:
Auto
Simultaneous Streams
per Account
2 for Plus,
6 for Premium
1
Average Video
Buffer Time (seconds)
3-5 6-8
Recommendations Very robust and personalized suggestions ranked by your interests Basic recommendations rarely updated or personalized

I travel 30-50% for work annually, so Masterclass‘s offline viewing capacity gives it a strong edge for uninterrupted learning everywhere. However Skillshare‘s streams have buffered faster and more reliably on all my devices – I suspect its smaller video file sizes reduce load strain.

User Reviews

Independent review sites show a consistent advantage for Masterclass over Skillshare in customer sentiment:

Review Site Masterclass Rating Skillshare Rating What Users Like
Trustpilot 3.3 stars 1.9 stars Renowned instructors
Motivational
Sitejabber 4.75 stars 3.74 stars Production quality
Entertainment value
Capterra 4.6 stars 4.0 stars Curation of subjects
Inspiration
Average 4.2 stars 3.2 stars

Analysis shows viewers rated Masterclass higher for the inspirational value of learning from public masters with insightful life stories and journeys unrelated to any one skill. However some criticize Masterclass courses as superficial vanity projects for celebrity instructors instead of comprehensive educational material.

Comparatively Skillshare garnered mixed reviews on depth and quality of instruction due to overindexing on niche topics covered by little known instructors. Students responding expressed frustration on repetition across certain lessons and limited classroom interaction to reinforce learnings.

Promotions and Discounts

Given tight instructor royalties and production expenses, neither platform offers sales or discounts regularly. Masterclass did extend 2-for-1 memberships if gifting an annual sub as I did for my niece last Christmas. Skillshare provided coupon codes for 2 months at 99 cents in a limited Instagram promotion. In general, expect to pay base rates unless referring friends.

Verdict: Which Platform is Best For You?

So when it comes down to Masterclass vs. Skillshare, which educational platform reigns supreme?

The answer depends primarily on your core motivations to take online classes:

Masterclass Wins If:

  • Prestige of learning from public masters excites you
  • Production value enhances engagement
  • You prefer inspiration over hands-on

Skillshare Wins If:

  • Niche skills appeal over big names
  • You want to actively build capabilities
  • Budget-conscious pricing matters

Personally, I found the most value using both platforms simultaneously – think Masterclass for the why and Skillshare for the how. Let Masterclass courses first spark your curiosity through charismatic influencers joyfully sharing hard-won knowledge and enthralling personal accomplishments. Then deep dive into tactical Skillshare classes to actually build applicable skills.

Ultimately choose Masterclass for the stories, celebrity pedigree, and inspiration fueling your ambitions…or opt for Skillshare to learn how to manifest those aspirations through practical execution. Build knowledge across both platforms to educate and empower the fullest, most well-rounded version of yourself. The road to achievement requires aspiration AND perspiration – unlock both with Masterclass AND Skillshare.

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