MasterClass online classes review

Allen Foster

We used the MasterClass app to select courses that piqued our interest.

MasterClass review

For some people, nothing is as exhilarating as learning. For others, education is a way to advance in their chosen career. Whatever reasons you have for bettering yourself, the pursuit of education is often put on hold due to time constraints or prohibitive costs — not everyone has the flexibility in their schedule (and budget) to return to college. If only there was a way that you could learn at your own pace from top achievers in their respective fields.

There is. Or, at least, that's what MasterClass claims. The company offers a fully customizable learning experience delivered by world class professionals. The educational content is available to stream on nearly any device you own, whether it's a smartphone or FireTV. And not only can you watch the lessons whenever you'd like, you can progress at your own pace.

MasterClass sounds like the ideal way to learn. But is it quality content? Can video classes really help you fully grasp a new topic? Is it worth the price? We wanted to find out the answers to these questions and more, so we enrolled in MasterClass. Here’s what we found.

How we tested MasterClass

To give MasterClass a thorough test, we downloaded the app and explored the available categories and courses to see everything that was available. After finding a class we were interested in, we signed up for and took the class. We paid particularly close attention to the quality of the class and the ease of access.

What is MasterClass?

MasterClass is a subscription-based, streaming education service that offers classes in a wide range of subjects that cover everything from arts and entertainment to business. What makes this service unique is the classes aren't taught by traditional educators, instead, they are a collection of tips, insights and personal approaches from recognizable achievers in the field. Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking, Dr. Jane Goodall teaches conservation, Ron Howard teaches directing, and more. Currently, there are over 100 different classes available, and that number is growing. The classes consist of approximately, "20 video lessons that are 10 minutes long on average." Each class also comes with an in-depth workbook. Once you subscribe, you have access to all content.

First impression of MasterClass

We were immediately struck by what a smart and innovative idea MasterClass was. The service has a sleek interface that is structured in a way that allows you to jump right into learning. Even before subscribing, there is a wealth of information available as each class has at least one sample clip available for free. There are 11 course categories as well as a category for the most popular classes.

How to select classes on MasterClass

We decided to use a smartphone to choose a class, but the process is similar no matter what type of a device you use. After downloading the MasterClass app (or navigating to the site), you land on a page of the newest and most popular classes available. If you scroll down, you find a link to "Find Classes For You." This link will take you to a guide of the whole service. However, we preferred the browsing approach — you peruse the classes in a similar way that you pick out content on YouTube.

Once you find a class that interests you, you can click on it. The class page provides a short video introduction (the "Class Trailer"), a brief sample video from the class, the instructor's bio and the lesson plan that outlines everything the class will cover. If the material is to your liking, you just click to get started and immediately begin learning. If not, keep browsing.

What to expect from MasterClass

After you've subscribed to the service and clicked on a video to get started, you will discover the classes are more like watching a video series as opposed to taking a sit-down course. There are no time limits and no exams, you simply watch a number of in-depth videos. As noted above, while each class has a different number of lessons, the average is around 20 lessons that are each about ten-minutes long. This works out to over three hours of insight from leading professionals for each class.

MasterClass content quality

We chose "Art of Negotiation" by FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss for our first class. The course presented practical information that could easily be applied to the professional workplace environment. The lecturer was methodical and offered numerous examples and bits of supplementary information to help ensure that the lesson topic was easy to understand for a wide audience. The information that the instructor provided was comparable to a college course. We liked it better than a college course because we chose the subject matter based on our personal interest and drive to learn, rather than because we needed to amass a required number of credits.

MasterClass video quality

We watched the lessons on both a desktop computer and a mobile device (Windows and iOS), and found no glitches or noticeable problems in either case. The streaming experience was smooth and hiccup free. The videos were slickly produced with impressive quality and high production values.

MasterClass cost

MasterClass is a subscription service. The cost is $180 per year and it is billed annually. You have 30 days to decide if the service is for you. However, once those 30 days have passed, there are no refunds – not even partial refunds. A subscription (or membership, as it is officially called) gives the member access to all classes and downloadable class workbooks.

We felt this was a reasonable price to pay because the classes can directly affect your professional life in a positive way – and the service may even qualify as a tax write-off. If you are a creative individual, these classes can give you insights and inspiration on how to harness all of those ideas that are bouncing around inside of your head so you can turn them into a profitable career. And, with over 100 classes currently available, that's less than $2 per class.

MasterClass pros

MasterClass gives the individual a rare opportunity to really go in depth and hear prepared material from experts and celebrity instructors. It is interesting (and exciting) to discover how others have achieved goals that mirror your own. You can learn from individuals who are walking your path and incorporate their life experiences into your own personal journey. The price is reasonable, and the content and quality are high, which makes it a good value.

MasterClass cons

The downside to the flexibility of MasterClass is the individual has to make it a priority. It is very easy to tell yourself "I'll do the next lesson tomorrow" only to realize that it's been several weeks since you visited the site or opened the app. Since there is no longer a monthly subscription option available, paying $180 upfront can be a little off-putting for some individuals. If you are a hands-on learner and do not get much from listening to lectures, this may not be the best service for you. Lastly, much of the learning is advice or examples drawn from personal experiences, there is not much in the way of hard skills.

Is MasterClass worth it?

MasterClass is designed for the naturally curious individual who has a passion to dive deeper into a topic, whether for career advancement or personal enrichment. To get the most out of this service, you need to be a dedicated self-starter – make sure the classes stay a priority and do not drift into the realm of an afterthought.

In short, with MasterClass, you can enrich your life by learning from individuals who have already achieved their dreams and are willing to tell you exactly how they accomplished that impressive feat.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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