There are lots of good eLearning platforms out there to choose from, and Udemy and Pluralsight are two of the most popular options available.
But how do they differ, and which is the right one for you based on what and how you want to learn?
That's what this in depth comparison and review will be looking at. I'll point out the key differences and help you to make up your mind.
What are the main differences between Udemy and Pluralsight?
Pluralsight offers an annual subscription which gets you access to unlimited course content. The platform tends to focus on more technology-related areas of expertise. Udemy has a more broad range of course topics and allows you to pay only for individual courses you need.
In this article you'll learn the basics about each platform, how much they cost, what time commitment is needed, who the instructors are, and more.
Table of Contents
1. Overview of Each Platform
from $10 per course
Udemy is one of the biggest and longest running course platforms available online today. It has over 50,000 courses available that range from topics like business to painting. From mainstream subjects down to quite niche ones.
The site operates as a course marketplace where any individual can sign up, create their own course, and make it available for sale. That's why the choice available is so great, but also results in some courses of a lower overall quality.
Since anybody can make a Udemy course, that also means that they don't really count as credit or look impressive on your resume in the way that a university degree would.
However, the skills you learn might still be able to help you get a job or promotion.
Check out this short video from Udemy to better understand what type of courses you can learn there and who the platform is aimed at:
Pluralsight is a lot more selective about who can put content on their site, and what kind of content meets their standards. That results in very high quality video and courses overall.
As a website, Pluralsight is a lot newer than other online learning platforms like Udemy. That shows in their catalog, as they only have about 5,000 courses available.
About ten times less than Udemy. But their course quality more than makes up for any lack of quantity.
The platform does tend to focus more on computer-related skills than any other topic, though.
Pluralsight courses are created by qualified experts and carefully curated to provide an excellent learning experience. Like Udemy, all courses on Pluralsight allow you to learn at your own pace and fit it into your own schedule.
Both platforms provide desktop and mobile applications. As well as different pricing options for individuals and businesses.
One downside to Pluralsight is how course creators are compensated. Whereas Udemy instructors directly receive a portion of each course sold, pay is measured differently for those on Pluralsight.
Instructors get paid based on the number of course minutes watched, so courses tend to be stretched out, and often a Pluralsight course may take three hours to explain something that should have only been a one hour long video.
Check out the promo video from Pluralsight to see what type of courses they offer and who they are aiming them at:
Courses on Udemy can range from $10 to over $200. They also have some courses that are available for free, but most of these are low-quality courses that are just trying to upsell a more premium product or service.
Most of the bestselling Udemy costs go on sale frequently. Some of the bestselling courses seem to be permanently discounted from $200 to $10 on the front page.
These 90% off sales aren't uncommon, and seem to be a major marketing tactic for the platform. Convince people that a course is worth $200, and suddenly paying $10 for it seems like a steal!
-> Find out how to get a Udemy course on sale here
You pay for each Udemy course individually, and there's no way to get a subscription or a flat rate for larger amounts of content.
Pluralsight, on the other hand, uses a subscription model. That means you pay one amount each month to access an unlimited number of courses and videos.
You can pay $299 per year for a standard Pluralsight plan, or pay $449 for a premium subscription. The premium plan comes with certification practice exams, interactive courses, and projects that the standard plan does not.
You can also choose to pay $35 per month if you can't (or don't want to) pay for the full year up front.
(As of the time of this article, Pluralsight currently has a limited time offer where both their standard and premium annual plans are $100 off.)
As far as online course platforms that offer a subscription pricing model go, Pluralsight is on the higher end of the spectrum compared to some of their competitors like Skillshare.
However, paying less than a dollar a day for top-notch educational content isn't an exorbitant price to pay.
With a price tag as low as $10 for a single course, Udemy can seem a lot more appealing than spending hundreds of dollars for an annual subscription.
If you only plan to purchase one or two online courses, that might be true. But if a course you want to buy isn't on sale and you have to pay the full price of around $200, that's almost as much as a year's worth of unlimited courses on Pluralsight!
That's certainly something to take into consideration if you're someone who is constantly taking courses and learning.
3. Subjects/Topics Taught
Pluralsight offers a more limited number of courses, as previously mentioned. Around 5,000 courses in total compared to 50,000 on Udemy. Pluralsight also has a fraction of the total number of users that Udemy has.
Pluralsight focuses mostly on software development, creative professionals, IT ops, data professionals, architecture & construction, manufacturing & design, business professionals, and information & cybersecurity.
While technically any kind of course can be published through Pluralsight, the vast majority tend to focus around these topics.
Since Pluralsight instructors get paid on how many minutes of their course videos get watched, there's much more of an incentive to focus on the most popular topics.
Creating top-notch content for a more niche subject is a bigger risk for instructors to take on. So for the most part, you see them stick with what works, unless a new emerging technology or trend arises.
On Udemy the bar to entry is so low that you can find courses on everything that Pluralsight covers, plus more.
Udemy's main course sections are development, design, business, IT & software, personal development, marketing, and photography.
But you can find courses on just about anything. Including astrology, aquaponic gardening, and even how to play the harmonica. If you can search for it, a course will probably come up.
4. Course Examples
Here are some examples of courses that Udemy offers:
On Pluralsight, you can take individual courses such as these:
Each of these courses are typically between an hour and eight hours in length.
Besides individual courses, there are also paths and assessments.
A path is a pre-made group of courses that might add up to 20 to 50 hours of content in total.
There is a path on C# which consists of 18 courses and is 52 hours long, or a Business Analysis – PMI-PBA course that includes 5 courses and is 14 hours long, for example.
These are "all in one" packages that aim to provide you the majority of what you need to master a particular subject.
Pluralsight also offers their skillIQ assessments. They can be helpful to figure out where you need to start learning if you're not sure whether you currently have a beginner, intermediate, or advanced knowledge of a topic.
5. Who Are The Instructors?
As mentioned, anyone can be an instructor on Udemy. That means you might be getting taught by an industry expert.
But more often than not, you're likely learning from someone who is only a little further along their journey in a particular craft or skill than you are.
On Pluralsight, they refer to their instructors as authors. Typically they have much more former education and on-the-job experience than what you'd expect from a course creator on Udemy.
On Pluralsight, authors can offer several different types of interactive learning paths for students to follow.
6. Accreditation & Certificates (How Do They Look On Your Resume / CV?)
Udemy offers completion certificates for all of their courses. But since Udemy instructors are just ordinary people, there's no real accreditation behind courses that makes them look reputable on your resume or CV when you're applying for jobs.
Udemy is a great way to learn a new skill for yourself, but their certificates aren't necessarily a great way to show off to future employers.
Come courses on Pluralsight can be submitted as CEUs (continuing education) to CompTIA (The Computing Technology Industry Association) and PMI (Project Management Institute) automatically through the platform.
You can also submit credentials that you gain through Pluralsight for ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), however you'll need to email Pluralsight directly to get this information in a PDF.
All courses that you have 100% completion for in a Pluralsight course will offer a certificate of completion.
While these still aren't as good as having a university degree on your resume, they will likely be taken more seriously than a certificate from Udemy.
7. Time Commitment
Expect courses on Pluralsight to take longer than those on Udemy.
The minimum course length on Udemy is only 30 minutes. Most courses on Udemy are a few hours long, but it's not that uncommon to find a course that's under an hour.
Particularly in the $10 price range. You can likely work through most Udemy courses in just a single afternoon.
Pluralsight courses are typically over an hour long, and usually several hours in length. If you're taking a Pluralsight path, there might be several courses that add up to 60 or more hours of video content that you'll need to watch.
That's not even including any projects or assignments as well. So expect it could potentially take several weeks to work through one Pluralsight path. Particularly if you're only working on it part-time.
While neither Pluralsight or Udemy come close to a traditional online course that a University would offer which spans across several months, Pluralsight comes closer in terms of time commitment and work required.
8. Summary of The Pros & Cons for Udemy and Pluralsight
Here are some pros and cons for both platforms.
Huge range of courses available
On any given topic, there are probably multiple courses for you to choose from, even at the lowest price point. That means if one course doesn't particularly appeal to you, you've got plenty of other options to choose from.
Some free courses
Udemy has a fair number of courses that it offers absolutely free. These courses are typically aimed more at beginners and not filled with huge amounts of practical information. But if you're brand new to a topic, you might want to just take a free course to see if it's something you're really interested in.
Varying course difficulties
Udemy's courses aren't just for beginners. There are plenty of intermediate and advanced courses available to choose from as well. That means even if you're already an accomplished photographer or programmer, there are still courses that you can learn something from.
Course quality varies
Anyone can become a Udemy instructor, and there isn't a very strict quality control system in place to filter out bad content. Instructors likely produce too much content for it to be practical to have a Udemy staff member review every course that's being released each day. That means it's important for you as a student to check ratings and reviews for a particular course before you spend your hard-earned money on it.
It can end up being more expensive
One $10 course doesn't seem like much. But some individual Udemy courses can sell for $50, $100, or even $200. Even if you're only buying courses while they're on sale, the cost of several smaller courses will start to add up. If you're spending more than $20 on course content per month, it probably makes more sense to look at a platform with a subscription model like Pluralsight.
Consistently high quality
On Udemy, instructors just upload their course content and make it available for the entire world. But Pluralsight actually has a full-time editing staff that reviews every video received to make sure that video, video, and content is up to their high standards.
The fact that Pluralsight focuses on quality means that their authors (instructors) are able to devote more time when creating course content and add a lot more depth to their materials. Competitors like Udemy tend to not take quite as deep of an approach. So if you're an advanced learner on a particular topic, you will find more useful information through Pluralsight.
Your path is plotted out
Pluralsight offers learning paths, which means that they've already done a lot of the work to put together a bunch of related individual courses to give you a great overall education. While you could create your own path on other course platforms like Udemy, you're more likely to risk ending up with duplicate content and overlap between courses.
New material every day
Pluralsight is still a fairly new platform. Content is constantly being added to the site. So there's always new information to learn.
Some courses are outdated
When I looked through Pluralsight's list of courses, I saw that some are several years old, going back as far as 2010 and potentially even earlier. Of course some course material will be fairly evergreen and there is no need to update it each year. But particularly when it comes to software and other types of technology-related topics, I would want to see courses that were brand new and kept up to date
Subscriptions are expensive
At $349 per year for a Premium membership on Pluralsight, which has to be paid in full up front, you might not be able to get your full value worth out of the price. Unless you're someone who plans to always have a course on the go, you may not get much value out of the platform.
9. Udemy and Pluralsight Alternatives
If the cost of Pluralsight gives you second thoughts, you might want to look into a cheaper platform like Skillshare instead.
An annual plan on Skillshare costs only $99. That's about four times cheaper than a premium plan on Pluralsight for the same time period!
Skillshare also offers tons of high quality video courses on a wide range of topics and is often seen as being similar to Udemy, so it's definitely worth checking out if you're interested in an affordable and informal style of learning.
-> You can read my comparisons of Skillshare vs Udemy here
-> Or my guide to Skillshare vs Lynda here
If you're specifically interested in career-related courses, you may also want to check out Lynda (now called LinkedIn Learning.) They offer a range of e learning courses focused on work and career based topics
-> Read my in-depth comparison of Lynda vs Pluralsight here
-> Or my guide to Udemy vs Lynda here
Finally, Udacity is another well respected and popular online learning site which specializes in tech and IT based courses, so if you're interested in these particular topics, then definitely check them out.
-> I've reviewed the similarities and difference between Udemy vs Udacity here
If you're still getting your head around all the different types of online learning websites then take a read of my Complete Guide To Online Learning Platforms where I cover all the major platforms and explain the differences between them all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Pluralsight owned by Microsoft?
Nope, that’s actually a common misconception.
Microsoft is one of Pluralsight’s several partners; back in 2012, the two companies announced their partnership, which would make Pluralsight’s courses available to MSDN subscribers, as well as through the BizSpark, DreamSpark, Engineer Excellence and WebsiteSpark programs.
They also developed what was known as the Pluralsight Starter Subscription, a customized package featuring multiple 2012 Visual Studio courses. Then, in 2014, they repartnered to offer MSDN subscribers 12-month access to Pluralsight courses as part of their package.
The partnership has continued over the years, and in 2017 they re-cemented their relationship, when Pluralsight announced new partnerships with Microsoft, Oracle and Adobe, allowing them to expand course offerings and update availability regularly.
Is Pluralsight good for beginners?
Very much so! With hundreds of courses available, each targeting a different audience, there are many opportunities for beginners to get started.
All you have to do is ensure the course you opt for is directed at newbies, or search specifically for beginners’ courses for your program of choice.
Each Pluralsight has a skill level rating: Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced. Simplu pick the one closest to your abilities and it should be absolutely fine for those who are new to coding or other tech endeavours.
Which is better CBT Nuggets or Pluralsight?
It’s a matter of personal preference! Both are platforms that allow you to hone new skills and add to your existing bank of knowledge. There are a few key differences to be aware of, however.
First of all, CBT Nuggets has fewer courses to choose from, being a smaller website generally and having less tech giant partners like Microsoft to help them out.
That being said, they offer lengthy, in depth video lessons, which are ideal for those who are looking for longer classes as opposed to short, bite-sized learning sessions like those offered by Pluralsight.
Though Pluralsight definitely has the monopoly on number of courses, they don’t offer as many labs alongside their classes - those using them are in fact encouraged to do their own research as it is believed this solidifies the learning process.
CBT Nuggets offer labs for all of their video lessons however, which is useful if you’d prefer for all of your studying to occur in the same place.
Should you run into any difficulties, it’s worth knowing that CBT Nuggets have a widely praised live chat customer service function, as well as other ways to get in touch, whereas Pluralsight is a little less accessible and some users report struggling to get help.
The only other major difference between the two is that Pluralsight offers courses that have been designed and implemented by professionals from within the tech industry.
That isn’t to say that the courses on CBT Nuggets aren’t of a high standard, it’s just that they don’t have as many connections in the world of business!
Which is better TreeHouse or Pluralsight?
Probably Pluralsight, but it really depends on what you’re looking for. TreeHouse is very much targeting beginners, as their tech courses are tailored towards those new to coding and other e-learning skills, but they are also geared towards professionals too.
Pluralsight has considerably more courses to offer, and they also have three levels of difficulty (beginner, intermediate and advanced) so those with existing skills might find more appropriate learning materials with them.
Likewise, as every single Pluralsight course is vetted and edited by a highly specialized professional team - whereas TreeHouse allows more or less anyone to upload a course - it’ll look a lot better on your resume if you’ve done some Pluralsight courses.
However, if you’re a newbie looking for an introduction on the fundamentals of a variety of tech courses, then there’s no harm in checking out TreeHouse either.
Does Pluralsight have virtual labs?
Yes, but they are only available for users on the Enterprise and Professional subscription plans.
Although previously they did not offer labs, they have since created virtual cloud-based labs, allowing subscribers to practice their newly learned skills in a provisioned and safe environment.
With step-by-step instructions and tasks through which you’re guided, it’s easy to work through these online challenges, which are designed to replicate those you will encounter in the real world once you’re ready to start working.
What is the Pluralsight license?
The subscription required to participate in Pluralsight courses. Although they offer some limited free trials, you must eventually choose one of their paid plans in order to get access to the full service.
The following plans are available:
For individual subscribers, a standard plan is $199 per year or $29 a month, and you’ll receive access to the core course library, all paths and skill assessments.
With a premium plan, you pay $299 a year or $45 a month to utilize the complete library of core and expanded courses, as well as exams, projects and hands-on learning in virtual labs.
As for team subscriptions, the Starter plan allows for access to the core library of skills for $399 per user, every year.
The Professional plan is increased to $579 per user annually, but you’ll also get access to the entire course library, as well as basic reporting and user analytics for your entire team.
A whopping $799 per year for every user is what the Enterprise account costs, but for this you’ll get all of the above, plus flexibility on courses and advanced analytics of the enterprise for your whole team.
If you're just looking to pick up a one-off skill, then Udemy might be a good choice for you.
-> See my guide to the Top 10 Best Udemy Courses for inspiration
But if you're looking to learn a more in-depth skill, particularly if it's technology-related, then Pluralsight is worth your consideration as well.
With either site, it's important to be clear what your learning goals are before you get started since your education will be mostly self-directed.