The Pros and Cons of Signing Up for Celeb-Filled MasterClass

published Nov 24, 2023
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Interior design instruction from Shea McGee. A cooking lesson from Martha Stewart. By the time you’ve seen your dozenth MasterClass ad in your various social media feeds, you’ve likely wondered whether it’s worth buying a subscription.

Before you sign up for courses about home, music, writing, and more, let me help you evaluate whether the program is worth your time and money. I’ve used the program before, and I also spoke with Meha Agrawal, life and mindset coach and founder of Silk and Sonder, who uses MasterClass.

Below, learn the pros and cons of the online program and what you should know before you sign up.

What Is MasterClass and How Does It Work?

MasterClass is an online platform that launched in 2015. You can stream lessons from 11 categories taught by more than 100 experts in their respective fields. Each class consists of 20 video lessons and is approximately two to five hours long, with the individual lessons lasting about an average of 10 minutes. The class includes a pre-recorded video from the expert, a class workbook, assignments, and community activities. You can stream MasterClass on a phone, desktop computer, or other streaming media player.

How Much Does MasterClass Cost?

A one-year membership costs $120 for an individual plan, $180 for use on two devices, and $240 for two individual memberships, with streaming on up to six devices. It comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, and you can request a refund within those first 30 days if it doesn’t meet your needs.

With all annual memberships, you have unlimited access to all classes. 

Credit: MasterClass

Who Teaches MasterClass Courses?

The classes are taught by internationally renowned experts on their respective topics — for example, there’s an acting class with Natalie Portman, a cooking demonstration with Gordon Ramsay, and a singing tutorial with Alicia Keys. 

Agrawal counts classes with Bob Iger (Disney’s CEO), Robin Arzón (VP and Head Instructor at Peloton), Shonda Rhimes (Founder of Shondaland), and Sara Blakely (former CEO of Spanx) as some of her favorites. “You feel like this person is approachable and accessible, which makes the connection deeper, even though it’s through a screen,” she says. 

During the pandemic, I enrolled in MasterClass for a year membership and enjoyed lectures on writing and storytelling by David Sedaris, Malcolm Gladwell, and Amy Tan. I appreciated each lesson’s practical, actionable tips for improving my writing as I navigated my process. I could learn from these legendary writers from the comfort of my home, and I immediately saw how my writing improved with just this small-ish lift. 

What Are the Benefits of Taking a MasterClass

Here are several reasons why you might consider signing up for MasterClass.

  • You’ll find classes that feel custom-made for you and your interests. MasterClass lessons allow you to dig deeper into a subject and provide tools you can apply in your life, Agrawal says. For instance, if you just bought a home, you can take a MasterClass on interior design or DIY projects.
  • The course quality. “I love the high-quality production, which makes you feel like you’re in the room with the expert,” Agrawal says. 
  • The experts! Seriously: It’s an incredibly well-curated community of experts, all sharing their knowledge in an accessible and high-quality way, Agrawal says.
  • You can learn something new or revisit a hobby or subject you haven’t considered in a while. “I find MasterClass to be an extraordinary resource for expanding myself as a person through learning and nurturing my curious side, which is one of my core values,” Agrawal says.
  • You can set a new goal for yourself. “At least once a quarter, I take a new MasterClass, and during that time period, completing the class and watching each segment becomes a daily or weekly habit for myself,” Agrawal explains. 
  • You don’t pay per course, so once you’ve signed up, it’s a low-stakes place to try something new that you’re not sure you’ll like.

What Are the Drawbacks of Taking a MasterClass?

Of course, MasterClass won’t be the right fit for everyone. 

  • If you’re looking for a community element, MasterClass doesn’t have a way to make the process collaborative, and so you cannot exchange ideas with other class members. You are also unable to regularly ask questions of the instructor, Agrawal explains. The website notes that MasterClass “cannot guarantee instructor-member interaction but will inform members if and as these opportunities become available,” and that some instructors “may provide feedback to select members on member questions or work.”
  • Because of all of the above, if you’re someone who struggles with accountability, you won’t find much of it on MasterClass, Agrawal says.
  • MasterClass does not offer course completion certifications. If you’re seeking a certification or looking for a course to use in place of an educational degree, MasterClass will likely not be the best fit for you. 
  • If you’ve already “mastered” certain subject matter and want to use MasterClass as an opportunity to further mine that topic, you may be disappointed. While the company maintains that “every class has been designed to be accessible for people with little to no experience and advanced students alike,” you may find yourself uninspired when going over the basics.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly spelled Agrawal’s name incorrectly. We’ve updated it to be accurate.