In this MasterClass review, we’ll answer whether MasterClass is worth it and share our experience as a long-time user.
I know why you’re here.
Like most of us, you probably were scrolling through YouTube when an ad pops up. The “skip ad” button isn’t ready to click so you watch the first 5 seconds, then the next 5 seconds. 2 minutes later, you can’t even remember what you originally wanted to watch.
Now you’re hooked.
MasterClass ads have filled our screens since its founding in 2014 (originally as Yanka Industries). Today, most people are aware of MasterClass’s addicting commercials, cast of celebrity experts, and promise to deliver a high-quality online learning platform that is leagues ahead of its competitors.
But to shell out $120 for its all-access pass begs the question: Is MasterClass worth it?
What Is MasterClass?
OK, learning and taking classes might sound, well, sort of meh. The thought of those words may transport you to grade school classrooms you dreaded being in (*cough* anything math) or online classes in college you put off until Sunday at midnight (guilty). Good thing there’s a huge difference between school and MasterClass.
MasterClass is an online library with over 100 classes across 11 different categories featuring topics like makeup and fashion design taught by living legends, including Anna Wintour, Diane von Furstenberg, and Bobbi Brown. In each class, there are usually about 10 to 20 lessons, which range between 10 and 30 minutes long. You can binge-watch a whole course or take your time — no rules, no deadlines, no tests. Simply the pleasure of learning about things you love.
Signing Up for MasterClass: How It Works
There are three different MasterClass plans: Individual, Duo, and Family. Each plan comes with access to all classes, a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, bonus guides and content, and a variety of streaming options (computer, TV, phone, and tablet). Although MasterClass doesn’t have free trials, the 30-day satisfaction guarantee allows you to get your money back if it’s not the right fit for you. If this is the case for you, submit a request to the MasterClass Support Team.
One difference between the plans is that Duo and Family members can download classes for offline viewing. This is an excellent perk for those who travel often or don’t always have access to Wi-Fi. Another feature the Individual plan doesn’t include is the ability to watch lessons on multiple devices at the same time. Duo members can be logged in on two different devices, while Family members can watch MasterClass on six different devices at once. The upgraded plans make the most sense for families or small groups that want to access classes simultaneously on their own smart gadgets.
Sign up: $180–$276/year; masterclass.com
Most Popular MasterClass Classes
MasterClass covers a huge variety of topics. The 11 categories include: Arts & Entertainment, Home & Lifestyle, Music, Business, Writing, Food, Design & Style, Sports & Gaming, Science & Tech, Wellness, and Community & Government. Below, you can see some of the most-loved courses and instructors available within each category upon the date this article was published; MasterClass adds new courses every month. I think you’ll be surprised by the number of people you recognize and would want to learn from.
Who is MasterClass for?
To be completely honest with you, MasterClass isn’t for everyone. But, it is great for a lot of people.
It’s great for creative types such as writers, photographers, artists, musicians, and cooks. If you want to improve your writing or become a better homecook, you’ll probably love MasterClass.
But if you’re looking for office-oriented, practical skills that help you in a non-creative career, you probably won’t find it here.
Instead, MasterClass is more relevant for people looking to add a creative spark to their lives. If you want to learn the fundamentals of acting from Natalie Portman, MasterClass is the platform for you.
There’s another key point you should know.
MasterClass videos aren’t live. The lessons are all taped.
MasterClass isn’t ideal if you’re looking for hands-on contact with instructors. They do have a Q&A feature, but MasterClass has gotten so popular that it’s hard to have a one-on-one feel with instructors.
The lessons are extremely high-quality, and the great thing is that you can complete them at any time (no class schedule), but you can’t get live 1:1 instruction.
The price of MasterClass online classes
In 2021, MasterClass began testing alternative subscription models besides their original flat-rate $180 annual membership. Eventually, they settled on a new cost-friendly three-tier MasterClass pricing model for their annual subscription:
- Individual – $180 per year (average $15 per month)
- Duo – $240 per year (average $20 per month)
- Family – $276 per year (average $23 per month)
The Individual membership (formerly the “Standard Plan”) is perfect for single individuals who are most likely to consume online learning at home. The Duo (formerly the “Plus Plan”) and Family (formerly the “Premium Plan”) plans are better for couples as MasterClass allows multiple devices to watch at the same time. (Netflix has similar restrictions for their membership plans).
However, the ability to download video lessons for offline viewing is helpful for people who might want to watch MasterClass on their commute to work without eating up most of their data. The Plus and Premium plans offer their users the ability to do just that.
Personally, I go for the $180 per year option as I average about one MasterClass per month which means my cost per class is $15.
What’s it really like taking a MasterClass?
Taking a MasterClass is easy: you watch high-quality educational videos delivered by masters in their craft. You then complete additional homework in your PDF workbook.
Here’s a typical breakdown of how a class works:
- 10-20 video lessons that are anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour
- Accompanying workbook anywhere from 50-100 pages
- Homework assignments to complete on your own time
- An online community where students can post work and ask questions
You can tackle each course in your own time. Want to be diligent and work with Shonda Rhimes on your pilot for 2 months? Go for it. Want to binge all the chess basics with Garry Kasparov in a day? You can do that too.
The best way to think about MasterClass is as edutainment. It’s a streaming service, like Netflix, except it teaches you valuable skills.
MasterClass videos are quite short but highly engaging. They’re not too heavy and they’re easy to follow.
Watching MasterClass when I get home has now become a habit. It’s so easy to use and I’m really enjoying it.
If you’re looking for a formal education experience, it may not be the perfect fit. But if you have a curious mind and want to start consuming educational content but still be entertained in the process, I recommend checking out the annual membership.
Not convinced? Here’s a breakdown of one of my favorite MasterClasses: Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking.
The pros and cons of MasterClass
Like with anything, there are pros and cons to Masterclass. Since I’ve taken a lot of classes, I’ve been able to see both the good and the bad.
Here’s where I think MasterClass shines, and where I think it could use a little more help.
The pros of MasterClass
I’ve talked a lot about how MasterClass is good, and it is. So, I’ll sum up the pros in this quick list:
- The video quality is amazing
- The classes are affordable — $180 gets you 90+ courses for a year.
- All the classes are taught by world-class instructors
- The classes are substantive, with hours of video and many pages of PDF workbooks
- Many of the classes have sequels, letting you dive into the material more deeply
- The user interface is easy to work and you can watch the courses from virtually anywhere
- These classes cater to creatives, and they really help to build up those soft skills
- You get invaluable advice and teaching that you wouldn’t get anywhere else
- You really learn a lot!
The cons of MasterClass
Like with anything, there were some things I didn’t like.
MasterClass provides an inside glimpse into the world’s greatest minds.
But is their instruction practical?
Well, it depends upon what your goals are with MasterClass. Are you looking to be a writer? Are you looking to be a better cook?
Or are you looking to improve your photography hobby?
If you answered yes, you’ll like MasterClass. But if you’re looking to find an online class that gives you a direct boost to a traditional career, MasterClass is going to come up short.
Is MasterClass worth the money?
We’ve covered the great: the amazing teachers, the quality production, the sheer amount of content, and the multiple streaming avenues.
So, at the end, is it worth the money?
Yes. MasterClass is worth it. It is a truly unique learning experience and gives you remarkable insight into amazing celebrity thinkers. You’d never get to learn from these brilliant minds any other way.
Personally, I love it, and the more I take the classes, the more I’m finding myself recommending MasterClass to others. You can even give MasterClass as a gift, which is perfect for those who love personal development.
While I do see the flaws, I think it’s fairly affordable and worth every penny I’ve spent.
Should you pay for MasterClass?
After doing several of the MasterClass classes, here’s my conclusion about whether you should pay for MasterClass.
If you feel like you’re lacking inspiration in your life, it may be a good fit for you.
Perhaps you’re a writer struggling with writer’s block, and you want access to the world’s best writers to see how they approach this situation.
Or maybe you’re an up-and-coming movie director and you simply want to immerse yourself in the ways of living and thinking of a high-quality director.
But most likely, you may be someone who simply wants to introduce more educational content into what you watch in the evening.
Sometimes, we get inspiration from simply understanding exactly what it’s like to be successful on the world stage. But certainly, we’ve got a lot to learn from the world’s most successful people.
The great thing about these MasterClass classes is that you really do get an insider’s feel of what it’s like.
If any of this applies to you, it’s well worth the money.
MasterClass vs. Udemy
Another online learning platform is Udemy. Udemy is currently the largest online education platform, but they focus mainly on learned, hard skills.
Want to become better at marketing? Udemy.
Need to learn a new skill? Udemy.
Want to learn more about a hobby? MasterClass.
Udemy’s courses have a minimum length of 30 minutes. You also receive a certificate of completion, which allows you to share it with future employers.
You probably won’t be spending more than $20 or so on an Udemy course. While the price point is appealing, you won’t get the quality you get from MasterClass.
MasterClass vs. CreativeLive
Needing the best of hobbies and business? CreativeLive has DIY, photography, art, and design, while also offering, marketing and business classes.
The problem is they lack some focus. Because they put so much of their time into multiple offerings, everything comes off a bit blasé. And while they’re a good online education platform themselves, they lack personal development skills that MasterClass is good at.
Through all of these online education platforms, my gripe with MasterClass and other online education platforms still remain the community.
CreativeLive has over 10 million students, but there isn’t a community that is strong and thriving. MasterClass’s community is stronger than theirs.
That being said, while none of these education platforms are bad, if you’re looking for premium teachers, amazing video quality, and personal development courses, MasterClass hits home.