MasterClass Review

Imagine learning acting from Natalie Portman, taking guitar lessons from Tom Morello, or enlisting Serena Williams to teach your gym class. 

That dream is coming true right now with MasterClass, an innovative learning program that enlists the world’s best-known, most accomplished artists and professionals as teachers for online classes you can take in the privacy of your own home.

In this MasterClass review, we’ll show you how the company has recruited celebrities at the top of their game to teach and inspire you. These aren’t reality-TV stars who got where they are by leaking sex tapes, but world-renowned artists and experts. The best of the best.

Key features:

  • 85+ classes
  • Accessible from anywhere
  • Professional production standards
  • Educative and entertaining

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Free 7-day trial
  • High-quality content for a fair price
  • Celebrity lecturers
  • A wide range of subjects
  • Not much theoretical background

What’s It All About?

MasterClass is a library of video lessons, exercises, and ebooks created by masters in their field.

For example, there’s a course on skateboarding taught by guru Tony Hawk, who dominated world skateboard competitions from 1983 to 2003, owns board manufacturer Birdhouse, and started a philanthropic organization that has funded the construction of nearly 600 skate parks in poor communities. Each student who takes his MasterClass reviews Hawk’s tips for beginning moves like simple ollies as well as advanced moves he has developed for heading down ramps.

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MasterClass offers dozens of unique courses conceived and delivered by experts ranging from chef Gordon Ramsay to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, from percussionist Sheila E to comedian Steve Martin.

These lessons are provided in bitesize video format that includes both explanations and demonstrations where applicable. Each class consists of about 20 videos that vary from five to 25 minutes. According to our quick review, MasterClass videos run an average of about 10 minutes.

This is ideal for learning on the go. You can tune in to a MasterClass over your morning coffee or while you wait for dinner to heat up in the oven.

You may find that the worst part of MasterClass is that it’s hard to choose which course to take. The good news is that you don’t have to. MasterClass is sold on an annual subscription basis. Your one-time payment of $180 gives you 12 months of access to the entire catalog. You can take all the classes you want as many times as you want. Acting. Writing. Singing. Photography. Fashion. You don’t have to choose. You get the whole works.

Get MasterClass and Review Your Approach to Learning

You may be thinking that you can learn just as much from YouTube videos, which are free.

It is true that there is a wealth of valuable content on YouTube. But MasterClass videos aren’t just for watching. Each course includes extra content to help you consolidate your newly acquired knowledge. You get assignments and a PDF textbook and links to additional information, all designed to help you to engage your brain and get more from the time you invest learning.

masterclass review lecturers

MasterClass even runs discussion forums where you can get together with other online scholars to discuss lessons and share tips. Sharing insights from MasterClass in writing can help you get more out of the experience at the same time it helps other students. The forums are an opportunity to immerse yourself deeply in the subject and meet interesting new people for online friendships. The time you spend there is time well spent.

The one problem with the discussion forums is that people don’t start MasterClass courses at the same time and they don’t progress at the same rate. On any given day, you’re unlikely to meet up with another student who is encountering the same material you are. That may explain why the discussion forums are not packed with lively conversation. You may find that a MasterClass review Reddit or Facebook group is a better forum for sharing your experiences and interacting with other students.

What Happens After Your MasterClasses?

Finish one MasterClass and you’re free to jump directly into a second one. Why not? It’s great to learn something new. But you can also take time after class to reinforce your knowledge. You can watch course videos again and again, as many times as you like, to master the details.

What you can’t do, after taking an introductory comedy course from Steve Martin, is take Steve Martin’s advanced comedy course. With few exceptions, MasterClass faculty members teach just one course. Every honest MasterClass online classes review must mention this as one of the program’s chief weaknesses.

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It is not much of a weakness, however. Although most MasterClass instructors don’t prepare multiple courses, the company does offer groups of classes on related subjects. If you enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s course on writing, you can sign up for writing courses from Neil Gaiman, Shonda Rhimes, James Patterson, Dan Brown, David Sedaris, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, and more top authors. It’s not the same as a carefully orchestrated sequence of courses to take you from a beginning level to mastery, but you do get access to an impressive variety of great talents. It’s an excellent way to expand your horizons.

We didn’t have an opinion about all of this before writing this review of MasterClass. After experiencing courses first-hand, we are convinced that the breadth of offerings is one of MasterClass’s main strengths.

If you want an eight-semester course on website development or four semesters on accounting, you can easily find it on another platform. That’s not what MasterClass is about. MasterClass supports lifelong learning as a hobby and way of life. It’s an idealistic mission based on the notion that learning about poetry is as valid a hobby as watching sports on TV.

The MasterClass all-you-can-eat subscription supports that idealistic mission. You may sign up because you’re interested in gardening or interior design. Once you’ve logged on, you can learn about poker or photography. Why not? It’s paid for.

Beyond Basics: A MasterClass Chess Review

Most online chess tutorials start by introducing the pieces and demonstrating the different ways they move across the board. That’s not how MasterClass does it. MasterClass’s most popular chess class is taught by six-time world champion Garry Kasparov. You’d better have a firm grasp of the basics, because Kasparov quickly gets into advanced strategy. If you don’t know how the pieces move, you’re going to be lost almost immediately.

Masterclass review classes

Many MasterClass courses are like Kasparov’s: intended for people who already have an intermediate level of skill. So get reading, practice a bit, take the course, and be inspired to be the best chess player you can be.

According to our review, MasterClass is aimed at professionals and committed hobbyists. So it’s reasonable for Kasparov to assume that his students already know the fundamentals of the game. In fact, it’s the only reasonable assumption. Would you sign up Garry Kasparov to teach beginners the names of chess pieces? That would be a waste of his time and unique talents.

MasterClass in Practice

You can watch MasterClass videos anywhere you like on your computer, phone, or tablet. The course library is set up for streaming, but if you have an iOS device you can download the videos to watch when you’re on a plane or in the woods without Wi-Fi. There are no downloadable courses for Android or other platforms yet.

Masterclass review classes 2

No MasterClass review would be complete if it failed to mention the free MasterClass app, which you can download and install on iOS and Android devices. You can use the web interface from mobile devices if you prefer, but the well-designed app makes getting an education as easy as picking a movie on Netflix.

MasterClass Pricing

A MasterClass subscription costs just $15 per month. Compared to the price of other entertainment and education options, the value is clear. But there’s a catch. You have to sign up for a full year and pay the entire $180 up-front.

Masterclass review pricing

Our MasterClass online classes review has convinced us that the subscription is a good value. But payment in advance is a lot to ask.

There is a sort of MasterClass free trial. You can purchase an annual subscription with the understanding that your credit card won’t be charged until 24 hours after you sign up. If you cancel your subscription within 24 hours your card won’t be charged. Otherwise you’ll be charged $180 for a full year of classes and your card will automatically be charged every year to extend your MasterClass subscription.

If you pay for your subscription and decide you don’t like it, cancel within 30 days. After MasterClass management reviews your request, you will receive a full refund.

MasterClass does not award scholarships to academic high achievers or give discounted subscriptions to needy students. The price is the price. However, MasterClass does donate an undisclosed number of free subscriptions to charitable organizations each year. There is also a MasterClass discount for groups of 20 or more students.

There is not, however, a MasterClass student discount for individuals who are enrolled in high school or university.

Is MasterClass worth it?

In the end, only you can answer that. Review the courses and the qualifications of the instructors. Match the classes against your interests. Consider what else you might do with $15 per month.

A MasterClass course won’t qualify you for a better job. There’s no certificate or diploma. What you get is the sheer joy of learning, packaged in a very professional way with celebrity instructors. And maybe, just maybe, your membership will serve as the incentive to make ongoing learning a habit, a regular part of your life. What is that worth to you?

Alternatives to MasterClass

Even an in-depth review of MasterClass online classes is of limited value without comparison to other online learning programs.

The internet is awash with learning resources. Some of the best are offered free of charge, but in general, the best learning programs have fees. Let’s take a quick look at some of the main competitors to MasterClass.

MasterClass vs. Udemy

Udemy is a crowdsourced online learning platform. Professionals teach free and low-cost courses. You may have to search through a lot of irrelevant content to find the courses you need or want. This is the primary differentiating factor in our review of MasterClass against Udemy: It’s hard to find the top-quality content you seek on the Udemy platform.

That’s not an entirely bad thing. Udemy has a huge catalog, and you may find yourself beguiled by a course on the rules of darts or the history of the cigar. You could fall down the rabbit hole as you are walked through the stages from novice cigar smoker to expert level and you learn how to trim a cigar, how to make one, how to select the best tobacco leaves, and which beverages to pair with which types of cigar.

That’s the unique benefit of Udemy.

MasterClass vs. The Great Courses

The Great Courses is a highly respected member of the online learning community. Founded in 1990, it offers courses written by university professors with deep insights and comprehensive knowledge in their fields. TGC streams content online, as MasterClass does, or you can have DVDs mailed to your home. TGC is known for the quality of the textbooks and guides that accompany its lectures.

TGC content tends to be more theoretical than practical. Its university-level courses range through fields such as history, literature, and the sciences. Although it is primarily theoretical, TGC does have some practical courses. For example, there are classes on learning to play the guitar. One of the factors to consider when deciding on MasterClass vs The Great Courses is whether you would prefer to learn electric guitar from a music teacher or from legendary Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello. There’s no right or wrong answer – it’s a simple matter of preference.

At TGC, you can pay only for the courses you take or you can subscribe by the month, a program called TGC Plus. The MasterClass all access pass costs $15 per month, while The Great Courses costs $50 per month, though it’s pretty easy to find promotional discounts, some reducing the price to as little as $10 per month. MasterClass offers dozens of classes, while TGC offers thousands.

It comes down to what you want to learn. A MasterClass writing course from one of your favorite authors is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – but some writers aren’t great teachers. At TGC, you’ll learn writing from people who have spent their whole careers learning how to help people write better. They’re not famous or charismatic, and their lectures may not be thrilling, but they are bound to be substantive.

MasterClass vs. Everybody Else

A single Google search will give you a long list of online learning companies, among them Blackboard, Bloc, CBT Nuggets, Cloud Academy, Codecademy, Coursera, Coursmos, CreativeLive, CXL Institute, Dataquest, Edmodo, eduCBA, EdX, Futurelearn, GoSkills, HubSpot Academy, Khan Academy, LearnDash, Learnworlds, LinkedIn Learning, Memrise, Mind Gym, O’Reilly Online Learning, Plan Academy, Pluralsight, QuickStart, Schoology, Skillshare, TED-Ed, Thinkful, Thinkific, Udacity, Upgrad, and WizIQ. A MasterClass review ought to be able to say something intelligent about how MasterClass compares to all of these learning programs.

And that’s before we get to online initiatives from accredited institutes of higher learning. You can take online courses from hundreds of America’s colleges, including Ivy League universities, without paying a dime. You want to take Yale’s semester-long introduction to literary theory? It’s online, free, and fascinating.

How Does MasterClass Compare to Other Education Sites?

masterclass logo
  • 85+ classes
  • Accessible from anywhere
  • Professional production standards
  • Educative and entertaining
Price $15
udemy logo
  • Both for professionals and students
  • 57,000+ instructors
  • 15,000+ courses
  • Lifetime access
Price $12.99
the great courses logo
  • 793 college-level courses
  • Regular discounts
  • Academic format
  • Lifetime Guarantee
  • eGifts for friends
Price $14.95

Conclusion

So we ask again: Is MasterClass worth it? Does the value justify the $15/month price?

We say yes. The videos are professionally produced and a pleasure to watch. The instructors are inspirational celebrities whose work is celebrated around the world. The bite-size lessons eliminate inconvenience as an excuse for not studying, and the downloadable course materials supplement the lectures.

However, be aware that this is not a classic learning app like Rocket Languages or Babel. No MasterClass course will prepare you for a lucrative new career. It’s not a trade school. The courses are for enrichment. They’re for people who are curious about the world, about the nature of success, about how celebrities found fame and fortune.

Things we liked / disliked:

  • Free 7-day trial
  • High-quality content for a fair price
  • Celebrity lecturers
  • A wide range of subjects
  • Not much theoretical background

FAQ

Does MasterClass give certificates?

MasterClass is not an accredited learning platform and it does not give out certificates or diplomas. Think of MasterClass as a tool for personal development in a hobby or skill that you are passionate about. If this is a skill that you can build a career out of, that’s great – but that doesn’t mean the course leaves you with formal qualifications. 

How long does a MasterClass subscription last?

One year is the minimum term. You can avoid paying by canceling during the first 24 hours or receive a full MasterClass refund anytime during the first 30 days.

How much is MasterClass?

MasterClass costs $180 for an annual subscription, payable in advance.

What is MasterClass All Access?

“All Access” is what MasterClass calls its annual subscription. The company once let customers sign up for courses individually; the MasterClass all access pass was an option. It is now the only way to experience MasterClass, as countless masterclass.com reviews attest.

Can you rewatch MasterClass courses?

You certainly can. MasterClass condenses learning material into short videos that are easy to consume. As a subscriber, you can hit rewind whenever you like, watching courses again and again as long as your subscription is up-to-date.

How does MasterClass work?

MasterClass is a unique online learning platform that features celebrity instructors who are masters of their crafts. When you sign up for MasterClass, you get to learn from the best of the best. Classes are provided as short videos supplemented by downloadable assignments and texts.

Is MasterClass worth it?

It depends on what you are hoping to learn and what you hope to accomplish with what you learn. If you’re looking to learn a skill that will make you more employable, another online learning provider is probably a better solution. But if you are passionate about learning and curious about how people at the top of their fields ply their trades, MasterClass is for you. The production value is great, the instructors know how to succeed in their fields, and the workbooks are helpful.

Our MasterClass review concludes that the subscription is not just worth it, but a bargain.

masterclass logo
Price $15/mo
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