Among all the options for learning online, Masterclass is one of a kind. With a team of all-star instructors leading classes on cooking, writing, sports, and more, anyone can learn form the experts right from their home!
So far, it’s the only platform to offer an all-expert roster of instructors. But is it worth the cost?
What Is MasterClass?
MasterClass is a learning platform for many different subjects taught by world-renowned experts in various fields.
Aaron Rasmussen and David Rogier formed Yanka Industries Inc in 2014, and published the website under the MasterClass brand name in May 2015. Within a few months, the website boasted 30,000 sign-ups.
Although MasterClass started with only three instructors, it added 12 classes in 2017, growing to more than 50 classes by the end of 2018.
How Much Does MasterClass Cost?
To get access to the lessons, you have two options:
- Pay $90 for lifetime access to one class; or
- Pay $180 for The All-Access Pass: this gives you access to all the classes for one year
When users purchase an annual membership, they’re able to give away one membership as a gift for free (however, in doing so, they’re no longer eligible for a refund).
The Homepage will show you all the classes you’ve started, so you can quickly click on the one you want to resume at the time.
You can go through the lessons at your own pace, and also interact with fellow learners in the Community Discussion portion of the courses you’re taking.
Once in a while, the website offers live classes with different instructors, giving you the chance to interact with the instructors. For example, over a season in 2016, a live class with bestselling author James Patterson also included an audition for becoming a co-author with him.
Currently, MasterClass offers topics under the following categories:
- Film and TV
- Music & Entertainment
- Culinary Arts
- Business, Politics & Society
- Sports & Games
- Design, Photography, and Fashion
- Science and Technology
Each class typically includes about 3–5 hours worth of video lessons, broken down into chunks of 10–20 minutes. This makes courses very doable, even if you only have a short lunch hour to slip a lesson in.
The lesson also comes with a complementary workbook, meant to serve as a summary of key points with added references and optional assignments to complete. You can download the very beautifully made PDFs for your use any time throughout the course.
You also get access to a community discussion where you can share your work or connect with other people also taking the class.
Another feature that MasterClass has is the ability to watch videos on a playlist. Instead of needing to go through every lesson in every class, playlists allow you to watch videos that fall under a certain theme.
For example, the playlist called “Inside The Craft” gives you a glimpse of how different people work through the creative process. Each playlist contains 5–7 videos, which you can watch one after another.
Most Popular Courses
Here are some of the most popular courses available right now on MasterClass:
- Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling
- Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers
- David Baldacci Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing
- James Patterson Teaches Writing
Film and TV
- Jodie Foster Teaches Filmmaking
- Natalie Portman Teaches Acting
- Samuel Jackson Teaches Acting
- Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting
Business, Politics, and Society
Sports and Games
What I Love About MasterClass
After having taken nearly all the writing courses on MasterClass and a few from other categories, here are the things I love most about MasterClass:
1. A Wide Selection of Classes
The MasterClass collection may seem limited at first glance, but it actually offers a wide array of classes on different topics.
For example, if you want to learn about writing, you have the option of choosing a course on writing thrillers or writing for young audiences. But, in addition to that, you’re actually not limited to the topics under the Writing category; some topics under TV and Film, such as Screenwriting, or Writing Comedy, may actually be helpful, too.
2. Passionate and Expert Instructors
One major strength of MasterClass is that all the instructors are experts in their field. This means that they not only know what they’re talking about, but they also have enough insight to make things as clear as possible for students.
Considering their extensive experience in their fields, they are also capable of inspiring you more than any other individual can.
For example, in the Writing Category, instructors include bestselling authors like James Patterson, David Baldacci, Dan Brown, Judy Blume, R.L. Stine, Neil Gaiman, and Margaret Atwood. For Culinary Arts, they offer Dave Ramsay and Thomas Keller, each of whom teaches more than one course.
Each instructor teaches from their strengths. For example, Dan Brown and David Baldacci focus on writing thrillers and mysteries, whereas Judy Blume and R.L. Stine talk about writing for young audiences. This gives MasterClass a unique twist for every course.
3. Excellently Produced Video Lessons
MasterClass courses are primarily presented in video format. They are all excellently produced, with very clear audio and video. The lighting is perfect, and the changing camera directions add to the appeal of the videos.
The section breaks also come with beautifully-crafted dividers, a good break in between long periods of monologue.
4. Helpful Case Studies
One of the most helpful aspects of MasterClass courses is the use of case studies. Having real-life examples helps cement certain principles in place.
For the Writing classes, getting an author’s perspective on how certain stories came about, including their initial drafts, is a prize not easily found elsewhere. In the Business category, case studies also play a significant role in the lessons.
5. User-Friendly Interface
The MasterClass website automatically saves where you stop, even in the middle of a lesson. That makes it easy to pick up right where you left off.
Off to the left, it also comes with a dropdown list of all the lessons, so you can easily pick which lesson you want to return to.
Challenges I Found with MasterClass
Though overall I thoroughly enjoyed learning with MasterClass, there were several areas that I think could be improved for an even better experience.
1. May not be ideal for those who prefer reading over video.
Personally, when I took the writing MasterClasses, one of the things I looked forward to the most was the workbook.
This was because I usually learn more through reading than through video lessons. I thought that I could watch the video lessons and get to contemplate them afterwards, while poring over the workbooks.
My expectation had been that the workbook would also be prepared by the in. I was disappointed to find that the workbooks were not written by the instructors; instead, the MasterClass team did the work of summarizing the contents of the lessons.
But it was clearly designed to be complementary to the video lessons and not standalone material. As such, it poses a bit of a challenge for people who learn more through reading, like myself.
Still, I appreciate how the team took great pains to summarize the content of the video lessons and add supplementary resources and activities.
2. Some classes may have close alternatives that are free on YouTube.
Although the lessons are taught by experts who clearly know what they’re doing and have a gift for teaching, the more practical classes, such as Culinary Arts or Gardening, feel more difficult to justify paying the subscription fee.
For example, for Culinary Arts, although the video lessons are clearly produced with a lot of time and a big budget, they have little difference from many YouTube videos. For one of the classes, Gardening, much of the same information may be found in YouTube videos as well.
Of course, going through YouTube means you have to dig and weed through all the content, so the time you save from having everything compiled and ready to go in a MasterClass may very well make the cost worth it.
Is a MasterClass Subscription Worth the Money?
Overall, despite the challenges I found with the MasterClass, I have greatly enjoyed it and have learned so much.
If your budget is limited, you can choose the $90 option for one class. However, considering that each class only reaches a total of about 3–5 hours of video, you probably will not come back to it very often over a year’s time.
As such, you may benefit from taking more than one course in the MasterClass catalog with the All-Access Pass for a year. Just make sure you schedule time to do the lessons so that you get more than your money’s worth.
Have you ever tried MasterClass? What did you think? Share your experience in the comments below!