Review: Is MasterClass Worth It?


What is MasterClass?

Founded in 2014 (originally as Yanka Industries, Inc.) by Stanford student, David Rogier, MasterClass launched its website the following May with only three instructors. Twelve classes were later added in 2017 before the total drastically jumped to 50 by 2018.

MasterClass classes are taught by respected and renowned experts and celebrity instructors in a series of high-quality video lessons, typically with a supplemental workbook that can easily be downloaded and printed for further reference.

Every course contains between 2 to 4 hours of video divided into single class lessons that are approximately 10 to 15 minutes long.

In 2021, MasterClass rolled out a new learning feature called Sessions by MasterClass. Previously, if students wanted to expand their level of knowledge or want to ask questions, each class had its own individual online portal called “The Hub” where students could interact with other students and MasterClass moderators.

How much does MasterClass cost?

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.
  • If, for example, you and your significant other wanted to split a MasterClass subscription with the Plus plan, you could boost your creative writing skills with five writing courses (I recommend Neil Gaiman, Malcolm Gladwell, and Margaret Atwood) and your significant other with five cooking classes. $240 for ten courses is $24 per course, which is still a steal in my opinion.
  • You can always upgrade or downgrade your subscription at a later date. Start with a realistic plan and go from there. The best part is, no matter which subscription plan you choose, MasterClass gives you unlimited access to all their courses. If you recently finished binging Game of Thrones, sign up for MasterClass and binge some Martin Scorsese or Jodie Foster filmmaking courses instead.
  • And if you are wondering, does MasterClass offer group or bulk licenses? The answer is yes. With MasterClass at Work, you or your business/organization can choose between 5 and 1,000 seats to divvy up to your employees/members. Simply reach out to MasterClass’ sales team to sign up. MasterClass at Work discounts range from 5 to 35% depending on the size of the order.

An honest MasterClass review

  • Now that we’ve got the pricing and general formalities out of the way, let’s pick apart the MasterClass experience and answer some FAQs.
  • Navigation and Course Discovery
  • As I’ve mentioned, MasterClass offers a plethora of classes—over 150 at the time of writing—with new classes added every month. However, humans aren’t the best at making choices when too many are on the table (learned that in Dan Pink’s MasterClass on sales).
  • Nevertheless, finding what course you want to take first is pretty straightforward. When you first join, you’ll be asked to complete an optional questionnaire that’ll help narrow down your search. You can skip this step if you want and go directly to the Library Search page where you can look up topics or select from over eleven categories to browse.
  • As you take more classes, MasterClass will continue to recommend classes that fit your interests.
  • The Netflix of online courses
  • There’s a reason why MasterClass is often compared to Netflix: production quality and binge-ability.
  • MasterClass videos aren’t a bunch of grainy Zoom recordings. MasterClass uses real filmmaking experts who know how to light, film, and edit high-quality video lessons.
  • MasterClass’s secret sauce is finding the dopest backgrounds for their instructors. Sometimes MasterClass films directly within the homes of their instructors (example: Alice Waters). Other times, MasterClass places its instructors within a setting to help set the learning mood. It certainly makes the viewing experience much more enjoyable (would you want to watch 4 hours of someone talking in front of a blank wall?).
  • Besides the video quality, each MasterClass comes with a beautifully crafted workbook that can be downloaded for personal use. Each workbook is unique and employs its own cohesive style that fits the instructor. (Again, would you prefer 60 pages of boring PowerPoint slides?)

New Feature: MasterClass Playlists

For most of my individual MasterClass reviews, I typically include an abbreviated lesson plan of the most important lessons from the course. Well, MasterClass took my idea a step further with the introduction of their latest feature: MasterClass Playlists.

Each playlist is a curation of short clips from a variety of courses around a particular subject. For example, there is a playlist called Total Wellness by RuPaul, Matthew Walker, Jon Kabat-Zinn and more. There is another called The Best of Anna Wintour by, well, Anna Wintour.

Reasons to invest in a MasterClass subscription

If you’ve skimmed through this article so far (I don’t blame you, who has time for 4,000+ word essays?), then let me give you seven quick reasons why investing in a MasterClass subscription is in your best interest.

  1. Learn from the best instructors in a variety of fields
  2. Content is enjoyable to watch
  3. Discover new subjects worth exploring
  4. You can’t beat the cost
  5. Courses are split up into easily digestible video lessons
  6. Knowledge improves your well-being
  7. More classes are added every month