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Given Mudbox is free on the Autodesk student license, is it worth learning? Does it see any use in the industry or is it just completely dwarfed by ZBrush?

I know the obvious answer is probably "Just pirate ZBrush" but chances are I'm going to be using Mudbox in the course I'm currently taking anyway.
Mudbox is hardly used compared to zbrush, but knowing one will transfer to the other fairly easily. In truth, its less about the program, and more about knowing how to sculpt. If you truly want to learn how to use mudbox or zbrush well, you should learn how to use real clay, and take a few anatomy classes.
>is it worth learning?

Not really, but if you're taking a course anyway it's not like you'll be wasting your time; you'll still learn the fundamentals and the core concepts, so when you switch over to zbrush you'll just have to learn a new UI
mudbox isn't very good, the only thing it really had going for it was it's painting tools, and now there are several better options for painting models, so not really worth it. it's not a hard app to learn so if you want to spend a weekend learning it go for it.

What are its new competitors ?
If not for the performance, I would even take blender over mudbox.

There isn't much to learn anyways. Mudbox's functions are really simple. It's like already said more about knowing how to sculpt and not about the program.
keep an eye on zbrush core being revealed this month

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