MasterClass is an online learning platform that features video lectures and demos from world-class experts in a variety of subjects. It’s entertaining, instructive, and thought-provoking all at the same time. How is this so good? “, you might wonder if the quality isn’t enough.

Whether it’s basketball (Steph Curry) or culinary skills, the cast, or rather the teachers, are a who’s who of A-list talent (Alice Waters). The list of instructors has grown to include more elite talent who are women and people of color since we last examined MasterClass in 2020, which was an area we had previously identified as requiring improvement. This is a positive trend that we hope will continue. MasterClass was named an Editors’ Choice winner for online learning, and we think it’s great.

What is the price of MasterClass?

MasterClass offers three different plan options. The first is the $180 annual Standard all-access pass. It will be represented as $15 per month, but this is a misrepresentation because you must pay by the year, not by the month. With this subscription, you can see the whole collection of content on any device at any time, but you can’t download lessons to watch offline or stream to multiple devices at the same time (in other words, share your login and let other people watch MasterClass at the same time as you).

The second option is “Plus,” which costs $240 per year. You must pay for a year in advance once more. There isn’t a month-to-month option available. Plus, it allows you to stream on two devices at the same time and see lessons offline.

Premium, at $276 per year, is the most expensive of the three plans, with an annual payment only. You can watch videos offline and stream them on up to six devices at the same time.

MasterClass used to offer a monthly subscription as well as one-time access to any class for a charge, but it no longer does. Is MasterClass available for a free trial? Nope. In order to get a refund, you first need to put down a credit or debit card and be charged $180. Then you can ask for one if you aren’t happy with it for 30 days.

Nonprofit groups are eligible to apply for a grant to gain free access to MasterClass. For groups that purchase five or more subscriptions at once, there are also group-rate reductions available.

What Are the Differences in Costs?

Other non-degree learning courses have a wide range of prices as well.

For example, Skillshare offers a free tier of service with limited content. For $8.03 per month or $31 per year, you may upgrade to a Premium Skillshare membership, which gives you unrestricted access to the catalog. Skillshare has a little bit of everything, but it focuses on the arts and talents that are related to the arts. You can learn to sew, write a memoir, use After Effects to create 4D scenes, or start an Etsy shop.

You can try out LinkedIn Learning (previously for a month for free. It costs $29.99 per month or $239.88 per year after that. The content on LinkedIn Learning covers a wide range of topics, from soft business skills like management to more technical ones. Many of the lessons from back when it was expertly cover software skills, particularly picture and image editing, graphic design, and other related topics.

Wondrium (previously The Great Courses) has a monthly subscription fee of $20, and most of the content is similar to what you’d get on educational television. Khan Academy is a free educational platform that focuses solely on academics.

What sets MasterClass apart from the competition?

MasterClass offers two distinguishing features that distinguish it from other online learning platforms.

The first is talent. MasterClass hires celebrities as instructors. Steve Martin is a comedy instructor. Natalie Portman is an acting coach. Serena Williams is a tennis coach. Frank Gehry is a design and architecture professor. It’s an incredible lineup.

Second, the classes are of exceptional quality, both in terms of production value and course content. You can see that the MasterClass staff spends a substantial amount of time working with teachers to develop an overview and sequencing for each course so that you, the student, receive the right material at the right time. Concepts are built on top of each other. You can’t learn to blanch vegetables, for example, without first being familiar with kitchen tools. The sets, lighting, and audio are all of excellent quality. You can hear every demonstration Christina Aguilera does with the microphones without losing your grasp on her normal speaking voice when she’s describing what she’s doing when she teaches you how to use different microphones while singing.

See PCMag’s list of the greatest MasterClass courses for detailed descriptions of some of the best MasterClass content.

MasterClass features fewer courses and a smaller selection of topics than other online learning sites, but the courses are generally considerably longer and more in-depth than what you’ll find elsewhere. For example, Skillshare covers almost any skill you can think of. It has also enlisted the help of a few notable figures, including Ashley C. Ford for personal writings and Mary Karr for memoir writing. People that teach far more particular or niche skills, such as how to boost your visibility as an Etsy seller or how to draw succulents and cacti, can also be found on Skillshare. However, there is no consistency in the quality, length, or organization of the class.

What’s Inside MasterClass (and Who’s Inside)?

There are eleven categories in MasterClass:

Entertainment and the Arts

Music, business, and writing are some of the things I do in my spare time.

Food Gaming, as well as Sports Design and Style

Well-being in the Community and Government

Science and technology

A small number of courses are available in some sections. As of this writing, only five people are in the Science and Technology category. Community and government were once sparse, but they have progressively grown in recent years, presently featuring courses by Malala Yousafzai, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Cornel West, and others. Some courses are double-booked and appear in many categories. All of the food courses, for example, are also listed in Home and Lifestyle. As previously said, the

catalog features experts in their disciplines and, as previously said, is better at recognizing women and people of color now than it was when MasterClass originally launched. Simone Biles is the face of gymnastics excellence, and she is rightfully so. The Power of Storytelling is taught by LeVar Burton. Timbaland offers a music production and beat-making course. Niki Nakayama delves into the intricacies of current Japanese cuisine.

Closed captioning is available for the MasterClass video.

How to Begin Using MasterClass

When you first begin a course, you can read a summary of what it includes, including the number of videos and any extra materials. A list of the videos is displayed, each with a title and description.

What is the duration of the videos? The run times are displayed on the video thumbnails inside the course. What’s missing is the year the course was filmed, which would be useful to know.

The majority of classes last between 6 and 20 minutes, and most courses have at least 18 lessons, while some are much longer. Some courses have extra material, like David Lynch’s 17-minute explanation of transcendental meditation with Sharpie diagrams. This is called “extra material.”

a screenshot of David Lynch’s supplementary materials on MasterClass.

What are the classes like in the masterclass?

I’ve gone through a number of MasterClass courses. My first stop was Penn and Teller, who teach magic. Johnny Thompson, who died in 2019, also appears in a few lessons. He’s worth mentioning because he was a lifelong consultant and collaborator for the team and was one of the most respected magicians of the last 100 years.

The class is entertaining, and it focuses on storytelling and the concept of truth, as well as sleight of hand. A meta-narrative like this can be found in many other MasterClass classes as well. The instructors frequently devolve into soliloquies about the meaning of their trade, its emotional pull, or how their early life experiences affected who they are today.

Penn and Teller invite kids to join them on set to learn and practice magic. You can watch how the pros rectify frequent beginner mistakes, which is quite beneficial. Some of the videos in this series include PDFs that summarize the lessons. You might find recipe PDFs or a whole course brochure for other courses.

Later films in the magic course bring in more experienced performers, and you get to witness Penn, Teller, and Thompson work with them. The benefit to you, the spectator, is that you can see what kind of feedback the professionals provide and how they cooperate with the performers. Finally, you will be able to see a few acts from Penn & Teller’s show. When you watch the craft, philosophical foundations, and showmanship all come together on stage, it’s the payoff moment.

Some of these techniques are available on YouTube, but they are usually taped for television, whereas MasterClass provides the complete theatrical performance. True beauty is witnessing the craft at its most perfected level while comprehending the practice and attention that goes into it. This course took me two days to finish.

Penn and Teller’s MasterClass rope trick

After that, I went to Alice Waters to learn how to cook at home. Her course is ideal for novice cooks who want to gain the confidence they need to feel at ease in the kitchen. Waters is adamant about filming in her own kitchen. For a few segments, she brings her daughter in. They discuss dining seasonally and share stories about their kitchen’s various dishware and kitchenware. A lot of the “why” of cooking is revealed. Why did you choose this particular ingredient? Why are these flavors paired together? I also completed this class in two days, albeit I must say that I watched several of the videos at 1.5 speed. I would have used it more if there was a 1.25 speed option (Skillshare has it, MasterClass does not), as Waters speaks slowly and often gets diverted by a narrative she wants to tell or takes 20 minutes to wash lettuce.

You can also enable closed captioning in addition to speeding up the playback. It’s a lifeline for those who need it.

I watched Christina Aguilera warm up her vocal chords, a course that includes a handy range-finder app to track your singing voice as it grows. Thomas Keller taught me that artichokes may be tournée. I was listening to Shonda Rhimes tell the joke, and it was hilarious. “The writer is fired by the director of a film. On television, the director is fired by the writer “to clarify the distinction between writing for television and writing for movies.” Paul Krugman taught me a thing or two about economic theory. Ron Finley urged me to make planters out of old objects. The topics are diverse, and the insight and reflection you get from these A-listers is rich. Simone Biles tumbles, Steph Curry dribbles, Judd Apatow explains comedy writing—the topics are varied, and the insight and reflection you get from these A-listers is rich.

It features both old and new items.

MasterClass introduced several new features in 2021, including My Notes, articles, and bookmarks.

When you’re not in full-screen viewing mode, My Notes is a note-taking tool that appears on the side of any movie you’re watching. Whatever you write is preserved in your account and linked to the course and video chapter you’re now watching. You’ll be able to quickly review essential topics and replay relevant pieces this way.

My Notes is a MasterClass place for taking notes.

Articles are exactly that: written articles. Articles on some of the same topics addressed in MasterClass’s courses are also available. You can bookmark them as information you’d like to return to at a later date, and they’ll be saved on a page you can access by selecting Bookmarks from the menu.

Video lessons work with bookmarks as well, but when you bookmark a video, it saves to My Progress rather than Bookmarks.

Bookmarks from MasterClass are available.

MasterClass discontinued its community functions in 2021. Message forums, a spot for subscriber comments, and even locations where subscribers could plan networking events were previously available on MasterClass, but they have all disappeared. Many of these interactive features were either underutilized or used exactly as you’d expect by grumpy complainers who didn’t provide any value.

Inspirational Curation

You can use customized playlists instead of watching the same person on the same topic for hours on end if you don’t want to watch the same person on the same topic for hours on end. Playlists are collections of videos from various presenters with a common theme. These playlists were previously known as “Quick Lists,” but they are now simply referred to as “suggested material.” A Healthy Amount of Risk, Dialogue for Screen and Stage, Leadership, and Understanding Ingredients are examples of playlist names that highlight the theme.

The playlists are wonderful because they allow the MasterClass editors to compile some of the best moments from the most universally appealing courses. They’re also a lot shorter than a full course. They may also pique your curiosity about a course that had previously escaped your notice while perusing the MasterClass content in other ways.

Playlists curated by MasterClass

Live MasterClass

At the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, MasterClass held many live online events with a handful of its instructors. Members who paid for the service were able to join the live chat and talk to each other online.

The events were taped and made freely available to the public. Look for a link to them in the MasterClass homepage’s footer content or on YouTube. While some of these hour-long sessions can provide insight into a certain MasterClass instructor, they aren’t indicative of the quality of the courses you’ll receive as part of your premium subscription. These movies are well-planned and professionally made, but the MasterClass Live content is spontaneous and unplanned.

It’s a joy to watch “Masterfully Compelling MasterClass.” I would play a movie in the background while writing notes or doing other work while assessing the service, only to find myself sucked into it or halting it until a time when I could completely interact with it.

“Could I find this stuff online for free if I truly wanted it?” I kept asking myself, and the answer was always “no.” I might be able to watch Reba McEntire or astronaut Chris Hadfield on YouTube, or catch a glimpse of celebrity insight on TikTok or Instagram, but I’m not going to get hours of content, and they’re not going to lay out their method in a well-defined format.

It’s an Editors’ Choice winner for online learning because the meat of it is brilliant.