Online learning is a blessing of the modern age. It is making learning accessible to everyone who has the willingness to learn and some money to invest, and the prospect of taking in new materials on the go and on-demand is attracting more and more people.
However, with more users, more learning platforms are becoming available, which is making your choice a tad more complicated.
On the other hand, having multiple choices can improve the quality of the learning materials available.
If you’re looking to learn about computer science, data engineering, IT, and other technology-related topics, then Pluralsight and Coursera are two of the very best platforms out there.
In this Pluralsight vs Coursera review, you’ll learn which option is better for you, and the reasons why picking one or the other might make sense.
- Pluralsight vs Coursera: Our Verdict
- Overview of Both Platforms
- Ease of Use (Portability, Design, Speed)
- Courses on Offer & Instructor Quality
- Flexibility & Time Commitment
- Pluralsight Pros & Cons
- Coursera Pros & Cons
- Final Verdict
Pluralsight vs Coursera: Our Verdict
As always, picking the right e-learning platform for you will depend on your learning needs and your preferred style of learning.
Coursera is better for you if you like university-style learning and you prefer to be taught by the world’s leading professors from the biggest universities.
It also offers you a wider range of courses and even though they’re not as advanced as some of Pluralsight’s courses, they’re very long and you can even get a degree (MasterTracks).
On the other hand, Pluralsight is better if you want to improve or gain a very specific skill (tech-related) and you want to learn whenever you want. It still has great instructors and the platform is user-friendly, too.
|Price||$29 – $39 per month||$80 – $140 per course; $39 per month; $15.000 + per MasterTrack|
|Types of Materials||Video, Written||Video, Written, Exams, Additional Content|
|Content and Instructor Quality||A||A+|
|Try Pluralsight||Try Coursera|
Overview of Both Platforms
To start off this review, let’s take a look at the basics – what these two platforms are, and what they have to offer to their students.
Pluralsight is one of the earliest online learning platforms currently in existence, as it was established back in 2004. In its early days, Pluralsight was a classroom training company, as it sent its instructors to various locations across the United States to business events and offices.
But with the advent of the Internet, it quickly shifted to an online learning approach already in 2007, making it one of the first platforms to do so. You’re getting more than a decade of experience and a high level of a pedigree with Pluralsight.
Today, this platform is almost exclusively known as an online learning site. It has around a million users (which is significantly less than Coursera), and over 7.000 courses available in around 50 languages.
It’s also known for its focus on tech-based topics, instructor and course quality, and user-friendliness.
Most courses are video-based, although there are various types of materials available to students, depending on the course you’re taking.
Coursera was established much later than Pluralsight, in 2012. Despite that, it is a much larger online learning site with a little over 45 million students – and growing.
It is a very popular choice for students that want to learn about tech but also a wide variety of other topics, including marketing, data science, health, IT, maths, personal development, and more.
Coursera’s courses are created by world-class professors from the world’s leading universities and companies (Google, IBM, Apple).
For this reason, you can see where the appeal is with Coursera – it gives you a glimpse of how it is to learn in the best universities and establishments in the world, no matter where you live.
Coursera has fewer courses than Pluralsight but far more variety in their offerings, as well as more variety in their course materials. It also allows you to audit courses for free and only opt to pay for a course if you want a certificate.
Let’s take a look at the prices of these two platforms.
How Much Does Pluralsight Cost?
Pluralsight costs from $29 per month for basic and to $39 per month for premium for individual learners (from $299/year to $499/year for premium).
Professional costs $579 per year, while Enterprise will set you back for $779 per year.
Most individual users will be looking at Individual Standard and Premium. The latter is a bit more expensive but it does give you access to more advanced courses, more learning contents, exams, projects, and hands-on learning methods.
If you’re a company or an institution looking for a more comprehensive package, then you’re probably going to be looking at Professional and Enterprise.
Both will offer you team management tools and features, although Enterprise is meant for larger teams and companies, while Professional is better for smaller teams.
How Much Does Coursera Cost?
Coursera is a bit different when it comes to pricing. You can buy their courses individually, or opt for Specializations or MasterTracks.
You’ve got three main types of courses or rather, types of learning you can choose from:
- Single courses – these will cost anywhere between $80 to $140 and potentially more, depending on the depth of the course.
- Specializations – these are collections of courses on a specific topic that you’ll need to take in order to progress in the chosen topic. For specializations, you’ll have to pay a monthly flat fee of at least $39 per month
- MasterTracks – these are degree-level courses that are far more comprehensive than individual courses. It’s essentially a full degree that’s taken fully online, and the prices will be measured accordingly. You’re looking at anywhere between $15.000 to $25.000 per MasterTrack.
You can also audit Coursera courses for free and then buy the course if you like it to unlock exams, quizzes, and the certificate for the completion of the course. You’ll also get a 7-day free trial for any course or Specialization you might choose.
MasterTracks are expensive, though. While we haven’t taken a MasterTrack, we have read the syllabus of one of the MasterTracks and we can say that they’re better for you if you have at least 6 hours per week to learn – if you don’t have that time they might not be the best option for you since you’ll need to keep up with the materials in order to progress.
On the other hand, getting a MasterTrack degree is a great way to get accredited while still learning from home, even though you’re going to have to pay a premium to get it.
Remember, you’re still learning from the world’s best universities and institutions here.
Given the number of options you have when it comes to pricing and the content inside the courses, Coursera probably gives you more bang for your buck than Pluralsight.
Ease of Use (Portability, Design, Speed)
Next, let’s investigate how easy both sites are to use.
If you’re a beginner, then Pluralsight has a very easy-to-navigate interface that will allow you to find what you need quite quickly.
At the top of the window, you can search for your courses, and also, the platform will automatically recommend them to you based on your interests.
You can set your learning goals, which will give Pluralsight an idea as to what type of learner you are, but you’ll also get constant reminders to go back to learning based on how much you’ve learned for a particular day.
If we take a look inside a course, you’ll see that it has a simple interface.
On the right-hand side, you can view the table of contents and freely skip to the lessons that you want to view, but you can also take notes. It’s a really simple design that won’t overwhelm users.
In many ways, it’s similar to Coursera but perhaps a bit easier to use overall.
How about Coursera, how friendly is it for the average consumer?
When you first open Coursera, it will not look as intimidating as Pluralsight – but after using both sites for a few hours, I’ve noticed a trend – Coursera’s courses tend to load slower than Pluralsight, which is a bummer when you’re using a wireless connection that’s not as fast as other types of connection.
Coursera’s video options also seem a bit more limited when compared to Pluralsight, where you can increase the speed of the video and set the quality of the video – Coursera doesn’t have that.
We also have to mention that you’ll also get access to the community of learners, which is not as neatly developed on Pluralsight.
On the whole, Coursera is still pretty easy to use if you’re a beginner; the main interface is clearer than Pluralsight, but the layout of the courses and the speed of loading goes to Pluralsight in this case.
Courses on Offer & Instructor Quality
What about the meat and bones of the platforms – the courses and their quality?
Pluralsight offers more than 7000 courses on the whole, and they’re all accessible through the monthly subscription fee you pay, based on your type of subscription.
The majority of the courses on Pluralsight are technology-based – more specifically, computer science, data science, IT, security, machine learning, and software development.
I think I can safely say that Pluralsight has better offers for you if you’re looking for advanced courses on specific topics – some of them you won’t be able to find on Coursera.
You’ll also find Certification Preps like the AWS Certification Prep, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Certification Prep. Perhaps the best type of learning here is done through Paths, which are clearly designed for your needs and your type of job.
The instructors on Pluralsight are great. They’re industry leaders and experts, so you can’t go wrong when you pick a high-level Pluralsight course.
Compared to Pluralsight, Coursera has fewer courses, but the number of topics that are covered here is much bigger.
On top of that, all of Coursera’s courses were produced by top universities from all over the world, as well as large institutions like Google. If you like university-like courses that are structured like your typical university classes, then Coursera is the better option for you.
The courses are also much more dynamic than on Pluralsight, as you’ll be able to take exams, quizzes, and you’ll also have constant assignments that will keep you accountable as you learn. The variety of contents in Coursera’s courses is better than on Pluralsight.
As you can expect, the instructors that come from these institutions are also some of the best professors from all over the world. That said, it’s fair to say that both Pluralsight and Coursera have some of the best teachers out there.
Coursera is also the better option if you want to get accredited education because you’ll get degrees that are very valuable here, although you’ll have to pay for them. This is something Pluralsight doesn’t have on offer.
Bottom line: Pluralsight’s courses and contents are better if you want advanced courses that dive deeper into a specific topic – that’s where Pluralsight shines. But if you’re a beginner or an intermediate learner looking to learn about a variety of topics from the top universities in the world, then Coursera’s the way to go.
Flexibility & Time Commitment
One of the advantages that Pluralsight has over Coursera is that it allows you to learn at your own pace, as you don’t have the time-limited assignments and quizzes that you might have in some Coursera courses.
Of course, Pluralsight still has some assignments and exams that you need (or want) to pass in order to get the most out of your learning experience with this site.
In terms of the length of the courses, these will vary wildly.
Individual courses will take you several weeks – anywhere from 5 weeks to up to 40 weeks and potentially more, depending on the depth of the course you’re taking. Some courses might only be a few hours long.
When it comes to Paths, it’s a whole different story. These paths are constructed out of several courses and might take months to complete, especially if you’re starting out as a beginner and you’re looking to get the most out of it.
Pluralsight also has an app where you can continue learning, but it does have some limitations. You don’t have the same video viewing options as on desktop, and there are some other minor changes to the app which means you’ll lose some features, but the learning experience will still be good.
Coursera’s courses and specializations are longer than most of Pluralsight’s courses and Paths. A specialization can take several weeks and months. But the biggest difference here is with MasterTracks, which will take several months and maybe even years to complete – which is understandable since you’re getting university-level education there.
A small limitation with Coursera is the fact that you’ll need to complete some exams and assessments before you can move onto the next part of the course – at least if you pay for the course. If you’re just auditing the course, you can skip to the next lesson without completing the examinations.
This means you’ll need to spend a bit more time with the exams to pass them (yes, you need to get a score better than 80% to pass in most exams), but ultimately, I think this translates to a higher level of learning.
It also helps to prove to future employers that you have additional skills. I discuss this more in “Can Coursera Get You A Job?”
If you want, the learning experience can still be whenever you want it, just know that you’ll have some deadlines – which is a double-edged sword since not everyone has the time to complete them. You can always reset the deadlines if you miss them, so it’s not that big of a limitation.
Coursera also has a companion app, which is on a similar level to Pluralsight and still allows you to learn as effectively as you would on a desktop.
Pluralsight Pros & Cons
- You’ll be able to learn at your own pace and on the go
- Advanced courses on complex topics
- Better video player
- The Standard monthly subscription gives you access to all the courses on Pluralsight
- Not as in-depth as Coursera on most topics
- Not accredited
- Limited library of courses (tech-only)
- No community
Coursera Pros & Cons
- Accredited MasterTracks
- Longer courses and specializations that take several months
- University-level courses taught by the world’s best professors
- You can audit courses for free and buy later to get a certificate
- Access to community forums
- Hands-on projects in Specializations and MasterTracks
- Can be expensive
- Time-limited assignments don’t offer you the same learning freedom as Pluralsight
- Not as many video playing options
- Not as good for learning specific skill sets
Both Pluralsight and Coursera are great platforms to use, but you’ll want to make sure you’re investing in the right type of learning.
The bottom line: Coursera is a great option if you like to learn from real-world professors from the biggest universities, while Pluralsight is slightly better if you want to learn about advanced, specific topics and skills that you might need for your job.