Ultimate Comparison: Pluralsight vs Coursera

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Simon Mclellan

Writer, developer.

Pluralsight vs Coursera, which of these two amazing online learning platforms is the best? That’s a tough question to answer, so in today’s article, I am going to break down all the differences between these two websites in an attempt to help answer that question. Undoubtedly, these are two of the best learning platforms available today, so I hope to highlight all the key differences for you so that you can make an informed decision.

Pluralsight vs Coursera – which one is better? Here’s a quick answer:

Choose Pluralsight if you’re studying for other professional certificates, need better tracking tools or are interested in studying bleeding edge technologies like AI, machine learning and cloud computing.

Choose Coursera if you’re looking for higher education, more academic way and feel of learning, Google or IBM professional certification or want to take college courses with or without fully enrolling.


Both Coursera and Pluralsight offer a large number of high-quality courses to teach you just about any technical skill you want to learn. While both services focus on computer science, IT, and data, there are also several key differences between the platforms and the subject matter that they cover. I am not going to be reviewing either service today, but rather examining and comparing the platforms against each other, to see which one is better. If you’re interested in full reviews of these services, check out this review of Pluralsight and this Coursera review for more information.

An Overview of Pluralsight vs Coursera

To understand the strengths and differences of each platform, you need to know what they offer. Both have a wealth of technical knowledge, but when is it the right time to choose Pluralsight over Coursera or vice-versa?

Both services are happy to provide courses that provide certificates when you’ve successfully completed the course, but Coursera takes that concept to a whole other level. Pluralsight has gained a reputation as one of, if not the very best platform for developers and programmers looking to increase their skillset. This is not an accident, but because Pluralsight has found a winning educational formula for their courses that has helped thousands of developers already.

Before we look at the areas where one service clearly beats the others, I want to take a moment to compare Pluralsight vs Coursera in terms of their one biggest defining difference from the other. Let’s start with Coursera.

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  • Coursera is academic to the core, created by Professors, and largely taught by Professors.
  • Pluralsight has become the top online platform for cutting edge IT studies developer-focused courses and professional certification preparation.


You Can Use Coursera to Earn your Bachelors or Masters Degree

Coursera was started by a couple of computer science Professors from Stanford, and the entire service is very academic in origin. In fact, you can use Coursera to earn certificates, bachelor or master’s degrees from big universities including Yale, University of London, University of Michigan, and a lot more. In addition, you can acquire professional certificates from leading companies such as Google and IBM. Yes, there are certificates for every course, but the real strength of Coursera is the number of professional certificates and accredited degrees you can earn from this platform.

Pluralsight Gives you Consistent Course Quality & Direct Access to Experts

Ultimately the one big aspect of Pluralsight that sets it apart from other online learning platforms, is the consistent quality of presentation, video production, course navigation, and organization. Almost every course on Pluralsight feels like it could have been authored by the same person, even though they have hundreds of expert instructors.

One of the cool features that sets Pluralsight apart from the competition, in this case, Coursera, is that you can pay extra to get direct access to online mentors. That’s right, you can connect with real experts who can help bridge the gap between your current understanding, and where you need to get to pass your next course or exam.

Cost Analysis: Pluralsight vs Coursera Pricing

Pluralsight has very straightforward pricing in that you pay once a month or annually and you get access to most of the courses. While it’s a little more complicated than that, it is far easier to communicate to you than Coursera’s pricing. The thing is, Coursera has a lot of different offerings, starting with courses, specializations, professional certificates, MasterTrack certificates, and online degrees. All of those services are priced differently. I’m going to break down the pricing of both services here, but note that they are always subject to change, so they may be not accurate at the time when you read this article, but shouldn’t differentiate much.

As I mentioned, Pluralsight pricing is easier to understand and for me to communicate to you in this article. For individuals, they have a $29 per month plan, or $299 a year. They also offer a Premium tier with access to interactive courses and practice exams for $449 a year. For teams of up to 10 people, they offer a Professional package for $579 per user, per year or an Enterprise package for $779 per user per, per year. Luckily if you’re interested in evaluating any of these Pluralsight plans, you can do so with a free trial.

Coursera has a lot of different services, but if we’re looking for the best apples vs apples comparison, it makes sense to look Coursera for Business, which is a service that gives your business unlimited access to Coursera’s catalog of courses. The price for this service is currently $400 a year per user, which is a significant savings over Pluralsight’s competing business offering. However, Coursera’s easy to understand pricing ends there, as other services, certificates and degrees have their own pricing structure. Coursera for Business offers a 14-day free trial.

Like most free trials, expect to give out your credit card or PayPal information to begin your trial of either service. During the trial period you will not be charged, but if you don’t want to continue with the service, and don’t want to get charged for the first month, then it is critical that you cancel before the trial elapses. This naturally leads us to our last payment topic: refunds.

To finish this section up, let’s talk about both services’ refund policies. Coursera for Business will allow getting a full refund for up to 14 days, while Pluralsight has no refund options currently. This further reinforces that Pluralsight trials need to be canceled if you’re not going to stick with it because they’re not going to refund you if you forget to cancel before the trial expires!

Both services offer an excellent value, but Coursera is technically cheaper for teams or organizations. In the end, the learning platform you decide upon will be dictated your educational wants and needs.

Areas Where Coursera is Better than Pluralsight

You can earn an accredited bachelor or master’s degrees from prestigious universities such as Yale through Coursera, something Pluralsight cannot help you with. In addition, you can earn some professional certificates from Google and IBM directly through Coursera, whereas Pluralsight can only help prepare you for certain certificates that you must then pass on your own time and dime.

Coursera has many courses that are taught by actual university professors, wherein Pluralsight often has great teachers, but many of them are business or tech workers, not dedicate educators.

Another area where Coursera excels in providing hands-on projects, even on their entry-level course work. In contrast, you need a Premium account or better with Pluralsight to get access to their hands-on projects. You can “audit” courses for free on Coursera, which you won’t be able to do on Pluralsight.

One of my favorite things about Coursera is that they offer specializations, which are unique sets of courses that are bundled together to help form a complete learning curriculum. Taking a specialization on Coursera will lead down the path of mastering a subject by walking you through from the basics, into intermediate courses and then finishing with advanced courses to solidify your mastery of the subject.

Since Coursera rotates its available courses and periodically removes courses that are not currently being taught, you will find most of the courses to be up-to-date in comparison to Pluralsight, which has sometimes had an issue with retaining a few old, out of date courses.

For those who don’t natively speak English or know it as a second language, Coursera provides subtitles for videos in over 30 different languages. Both sites are primarily concerned with English content, but for those who have the need, Coursera provides better non-English language support.

A final aspect of Coursera that I find to be a great resource, is the fact that you have access to the Coursera community forums. This can really help you to connect with other learners, find answers to common course issues, and even post your own problems or solutions in relation to a particular course. Pluralsight has no similar feature to match this, so it’s a win for Coursera on this one.

Areas Where Pluralsight is Better than Coursera

The biggest area to start with when covering the areas that Pluralsight beats Coursera is definitely the fact that Pluralsight courses are always available to take on your own pace and schedule. While this is also true of a lot of Coursera’s content, a good number of courses on Coursera are only available for a limited time and then unavailable for several months until the class starts again.

If you’re a creative type and looking to take courses to improve your drawing, design skills, or 3d modeling for instance, then Pluralsight has more options custom-tailored for you. Sure, Coursera has courses covering these subjects too, but Pluralsight has more cohesive learning paths when it comes to those types of creative and design subjects.

In fact, if your goal is to learn a technical skillset, like becoming a game developer or data engineer for instance, then Pluralsight simply has better learning paths capable of teaching you all aspects of game development and data engineering. Coursera does cover these topics, but Pluralsight deep dives into every angle needed to fully master these subjects.

If I were to single out the topics where Pluralsight clearly has an edge over Coursera, it has to be new programming languages and platforms, data professional skills, Microsoft Certification training, manufacturing and product design, and architecture and construction. Again, Coursera covers all of these subjects, but if you give both services a free trial, I think you will agree that Pluralsight wins in these categories.

Another area where Pluralsight gets a clear victory to me is with their video player and the options they provide for videos. You can speed up or slow down content, and also choose from low, medium, or high-quality videos. You don’t need to download these videos, but rather watch them through your browser using their video player that is embedded inside of the course. Sure, Coursera has videos and the ability to play them, but the options are much more limited when compared to Pluralsight’s robust video player.

Finally, I have to give credit to Pluralsight for providing a superior mobile interface. While Coursera is perfectly usable on a phone or tablet, Pluralsight is designed to work and look great on all devices and manages to beat Coursera here. If you’re doing all your learning from a desktop or laptop computer, it’s safe to ignore this win, but if you end up using your phone or tablet for consuming course videos and projects, then Pluralsight manages to barely come in ahead in these regards.

What Common Pros & Cons Do Each Service Share?

So far, I’ve outlined the differences you can expect with Pluralsight vs Coursera, but what about the commonalities that you can expect if you sign up for either or both of the services?

First of all, it goes without saying at this point that both platforms are outstanding places to learn and perfect new skills and knowledge. However, I’m going to touch on some of the features, user experiences, services and issues that both platforms have.

Both of these learning platforms want to keep you engaged, and so you will find that they keep you up to date about your current courses, what’s left to do in them, and your current progress. Each of these services is filled to the brim with video tutorials, and both are stuffed full of computer programming courses for just about every modern language out there.

These are two of the consistently highest quality services in the online learning space, with Pluralsight having stringent quality guidelines that result in high-quality production consistently with each course, and Coursera having most courses directly taught by university professors.

In terms of common problems or issues they both share, neither of the services are free. However, for the high-quality courses and accredited certifications that you can acquire, it makes sense that they cost money.

Which Platform is Easier to Learn On: Pluralsight vs Coursera?

Both of these platforms are designed to help you learn, and in fact, these two services are businesses that are only going to continue earning subscription fees if they actually succeed in teaching you what you set out to learn. To that end, both platforms provide a wealth of tools and resources to track your progress and try and nudge you along at your own pace to finish your courses.

Both services provide some different tools to help you stay on the learning path. Pluralsight has an edge when it comes to these tools, although you’ll need to subscribe to their higher tier Premium, Professional or Enterprise packages in order to get full access to all the tracking and practice tools they have for each course.

Coursera, on the other hand, has a barebones set of tools to keep track of your progress and completion rate on a particular course. The tracking is not quite as robust as Pluralsight unless your company has subscribed to a Coursera for Business Enterprise plan, which then gives you access to all of their tracking and business analysis tools.

In terms of ease of use and consistency in the user interface, I have to hand it to Pluralsight. Courses developed by completely different instructors manage to feel like part of the same learning path on Pluralsight. Where to look for data, how to navigate through the courses, and how you check your progress all remain consistent on Pluralsight. On Coursera, the scope, quality, and presentation of each course can vary wildly, which is partially due to the large differences in instructors and their backgrounds. In addition, Coursera doesn’t impose strong course templates for instructors to copy on each course they create, whereas Pluralsight forces instructors to create courses the Pluralsight way using their common course templates.


When examining Pluralsight vs Coursera, it’s hard to call one better than the other without getting down into the fine details of what each platform offers. Undoubtedly both services are amazing ways to learn new technical, creative, and business orientated subjects, but they each have their own pros and cons as I’ve talked about in this article.

Hopefully, by this point in the discussion, you understand enough of their overlap and differences to make an informed choice for your educational needs. To sum it up though, choose Coursera if you’re looking for higher education, more academic way and feel of learning, Google or IBM professional certification or want to take college courses with or without fully enrolling. Choose Pluralsight if you’re studying for other professional certificates, need better tracking tools or are interested in studying bleeding edge technologies like AI, machine learning and cloud computing.

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