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By now you’re probably familiar with the cinematic course catalog taught by leaders in their fields, otherwise known as MasterClass. For the uninitiated, here’s the lowdown.
What is MasterClass?
MasterClass is an eLearning platform founded in 2014 that focused largely on creative fields (but is quickly expanding). It creates video courses taught by ‘the greats’. This means you can learn from writers like Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates to business-world stars like Bob Iger. Check out our complete list of MasterClasses updated monthly. (There are over 100 classes at this point.)
MasterClass includes courses that are made up of roughly 12 to 20 videos each, accompanied by an in-depth workbook. Some of these workbooks are 100 pages in length so we’re not talking about tiny PDFs that leave you wishing for more. On average, I’ve noticed most workbooks come in at about 35 to 65 pages, at least of the ones I’ve gone through up until this posting.
How Much Does MasterClass Cost?
MasterClass costs $180 for a year-long membership. They try to advertise this as $15 a month but there is no monthly payment option. This means it is a $180 dollar one-off purchase. This sort of craptastic marketing technique irritates the life out of me, especially as someone who has worked in marketing. It’s smarmy. It’s like saying a car will cost $350 dollars monthly but you have to pay for everything upfront.
Does MasterClass Have a Free Trial?
Sometimes MasterClass will offer guest passes to existing members or offer deals that give you a two-for-one membership. But, there is currently no built-in free trial that is easily accessible for members. I imagine maybe as the platform grows to include more content they may introduce a free trial.
Is MasterClass Worth the Money?
MasterClass is definitely worth the money. In fact, I’ve become a bit of a MasterClass fangirl lately. MasterClass offers enough variety that you can learn about various topics from people who are more than qualified to speak on the subject. You aren’t learning from Joe-Shmo who may or may not have the credentials to teach you about (insert topic here).
Even at 100 courses total (which they have surpassed), you are only paying $1.80 per class. I’d easily pay $1.80 for these courses.
But, I get that $180 is a lot of upfront investment. It took me at least a month or two to determine whether or not I was going to go through with the purchase. Be sure to do your research and determine if there are enough classes that meet your interests to make it worth your money. Also understand that these courses are focused on theory and less on learning specific, technical skills.
How Many MasterClasses Are There? (Updated January 2021)
At the time of writing, MasterClass has a total of 102 courses available. This increases by one to four classes each month or so it seems. MasterClass doesn’t do much by way of announcing upcoming courses.
The MasterClass Website
The MasterClass website is easy to navigate once you know where you’re going. The site is quick and doesn’t have any recurring glitches or problems with loading. My biggest gripe is that as a new user, the interface is overwhelming. You don’t get a clear picture of what courses are available and many courses show up in two or more categories.
Their ‘My Progress’ feature is my favorite. It gives you a quick overview of the courses you’ve begun, where you’re at in the course, and how much further you have to go. It also includes a list of all the courses you have completed.
The MasterClass App
The MasterClass app isn’t my favorite way to explore the courses, even though I will often stream them from the app while making dinner or doing dishes. The MasterClass app feels a bit cluttered at times and the download feature is finicky. It’s especially annoying to download everything you want to listen to for your workout, only for the app to delete all your downloads. (I was not a happy camper.)
The MasterClass app is beneficial in that it exists. You can access the videos, although I wouldn’t recommend trying to read the workbooks from your phone. But, when comparing desktop and the app, I prefer the website application hands down.
Pros of MasterClass
You are learning from the best of the best when it comes to MasterClass. Many of the instructors MasterClass works with are known by people outside of their industry as well as inside. While this can mean the instructors don’t teach as a trained professor would, they are providing important insight that a college professional likely wouldn’t.
MasterClass doesn’t mess around when it comes to the quality of its product. The courses are professionally shot and the workbooks aren’t thrown together in a Word Doc. These courses feel polished and presentable. In my opinion, this makes it easier for you to focus on the information shared rather than being distracted by poor-quality video.
Hear me out, $180 isn’t cheap, but when you look at how many courses you get for the price MasterClass is much more affordable than many alternatives.
Cons of Masterclass
Workbooks Aren’t Printer Friendly
This is a huge gripe for me. I even emailed them about it and their excuse was essentially that they just don’t have printable versions. MasterClass—make a plain text printable version that isn’t overrun with color. It’s not that hard. In fact, it’s much easier than the fancy formatting each workbook currently has. This is irritating because not everyone wants to, or can comfortably, read from their digital device. For me, it hurts my eyes and is difficult for me to follow. I’d prefer to hold the paper in my hand and make physical notes. Providing both would be nice and something they could have an intern do in less than a few days’ time.
Not Super In-Depth or Technical
These courses are excellent, but they just aren’t that deep. You’re learning about theory and the instructor’s experiences but you aren’t getting into the nitty-gritty. Some MasterClasses are better than others in this regard. I think it all comes down to the instructor themselves and how deep they want to get into the content.
For me, this isn’t a dealbreaker. I use other platforms for learning and practicing more technical skills. But if you can only pick one platform and you want technical advice, MasterClass may not be for you.
Alternatives to MasterClass
If MasterClass doesn’t exactly offer what you’re after, try one of the following alternatives:
- Skillshare: More technical, one-off classes.
- Coursera: College courses at a fraction of the cost.
- Udemy: Affordable pay as you go courses with a wide variety to pick from.