Masterclass Review: Is It Worth It?

Masterclass Review
  • Production quality
  • Affordability
  • Relevance of course materials
  • Ease of use

MasterClass Review Verdict

MasterClass is a great choice if you want to learn new skills from high-quality celebrities, professionals, and thought leaders in almost any industry. It’s all but impossible to learn from many of these celebrity instructors otherwise. At $180 per year, it’s a bargain.


  • High-quality production value
  • Affordable
  • Offers access to top-level creators and industry leaders
  • Includes succinct materials
  • New courses added regularly
  • Produces high-quality video
  • Posts new courses regularly
  • High-calibre instructors
  • Excellent Masterclass mobile app


  • Not all classes are relevant to everyone
  • Less suitable for technical topics
  • Community forums are hit and miss
  • Students need an affinity with their teacher

Is Masterclass worth it? Find out in this 2023 MasterClass review, where we review its most popular online classes.

I joined MasterClass several years ago and spent dozens of hours taking its courses. In this review, I share my thoughts about this online learning platform for creative professionals. Over the past few years, I completed over a dozen MasterClass courses by teachers like Steve Martin, Malcolm Gladwell, Gordan Ramsay, Anna Wintour, Helen Mirren, Samuel L. Jackson and James Patterson. In this MasterClass review, I’ll explain how the platform works and profile its most popular courses. 


Learn from the world's best teachers and instructors about writing, business, creative pursuits and more. It's affordable and includes dozens of hours of high-quality lessons that you can't get anywhere else. It costs just $10 per month.

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What is MasterClass?

MasterClass is a San Francisco-based online learning platform for creative professionals. Of course, you don’t have to travel to San Francisco to take a MasterClass. You can watch MastercCass courses using your computer or phone and consume the materials on the go. Just open the online class and get started. It’s an online learning experience from top creators you would not usually have access to.

Who Owns MasterClass?

Entrepreneur Aaron Rasmussen and film editor and director David Rogier started MasterClass in 2015. A private company, it has acquired hundreds of thousands of students worldwide.

Who is MasterClass For?

MasterClass is for writers, photography enthusiasts, chefs, artists, musicians, painters, creative professionals, and those interested in entrepreneurship. It’s ideal for students who are happy to learn at their own pace using a computer from celebrities and well-known industry leaders.

Many other online courses I’ve taken help students to learn business skills like marketing or a more practical skill like coding or web development basics. MasterClass isn’t ideal for people who thrive in classroom environments and prefer a more hands-on approach from teachers. When I first joined MasterClass, it mainly focused on the craft of writing and the creative arts. Since I joined, MasterClass has rolled out numerous updates that should help students.MasterClass covers a range of categories, including:

  • Cooking and culinary arts
  • Film and T.V.
  • Music and entertainment
  • Writing
  • Sports and games
  • Design, photography, and fashion
  • Business, politics, and society
  • Science and technology
  • Lifestyle
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Interior design

Who Are the MasterClass Instructors?

The MasterClass online learning platform instructors are celebrities and world-renowned experts in their craft. Expect filmmakers like Martin Scorcese, advertising gurus like Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein, famous authors and even former presidents! Here are some of its most popular courses:

Best MasterClass Courses

Course Name Course Description Who's it for? More Information
Chris Voss's Art of Negotiation Learn negotiation skills from a former FBI negotiator Business professionals, salespeople, anyone looking to improve their negotiation abilities
Bob Iger's Business Strategy & Leadership Disney's ex-CEO shares his business and leadership strategies Aspiring leaders, managers, anyone interested in the business world
RuPaul's Self-Expression and Authenticity Learn to express yourself authentically with RuPaul Creative individuals, performers, anyone seeking to enhance personal confidence
Ron Finley's Gardening Learn gardening from the "Gangster Gardener" Beginners in gardening, environmental enthusiasts
Annie Leibovitz's Photography Master the art of photography with renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz Aspiring photographers, visual artists
Spike Lee's Independent Filmmaking Spike Lee teaches the art of independent filmmaking Aspiring filmmakers, film enthusiasts
Werner Herzog's Filmmaking Learn filmmaking from legendary director Werner Herzog Anyone interested in filmmaking, directors, writers
Hans Zimmer's Film Scoring Discover the secrets of film scoring from Hans Zimmer Musicians, composers, film enthusiasts
Aaron Franklin's Texas-Style BBQ Aaron Franklin teaches the art of Texas-style BBQ Cooking enthusiasts, BBQ lovers, aspiring chefs
Neil deGrasse Tyson's Scientific Thinking and Communication Learn scientific thinking and communication from renowned astrophysicist Science enthusiasts, educators, students

How Much Is MasterClass?

MasterClass annual membership pass costs $180 per year of $15 per month. For this price, you get unlimited access to every class on the learning platform and any new ones that launch that year. It includes access to the official MasterClass app for iOS and Android. MasterClass also offers Duo and Family pricing, cost $20 and $23 per month respectively. Duo enables the usage of 1 account on two devices at once. Family enables the use of one account on six devices at once.

Masterclass pricing May 2023

Does MasterClass Offer a Discount?

No, MasterClass doesn’t offer discounts. You can save money by paying annually instead of monthly or by buying a Duo or family pass.

Is There A MasterClass Free Trial?

MasterClass doesn’t offer free trials. However, the annual membership pass has a 30-day money-back guarantee for unhappy students who want a refund.

MasterClass Annual Subscription Benefits

With an annual membership pass, you can access every class in MasterClass and any new ones. You can watch any MasterClass lesson as many times as you’d like. Login to your account. Go to the class enrollment page for the course you want to enroll in. Click “Take the Class”. Click on the instructor tiles to find the enrollment pages.

How MasterClass Works

MasterClass course typically contains 25 video lessons. Each video is five to 30 minutes long (most are 10 minutes long). In some cases, the teacher speaks straight to the camera. In others, the instructor works with their students’ efforts in front of the camera. Some MasterClass videos also include extracts from the teachers’ works.

You can take a MasterClass lesson online and watch them on your computer or phone using the MasterClass app. Each one comes with background material, downloadable worksheets, and reading lists. You may find your new favorite story.

Course Workbook

Each lesson provides a workbook that helpfully summarizes the critical points in each video. Plus, the workbook provides additional reading materials and space to write lesson notes on the craft. Although MasterClass doesn’t offer a membership for lifetime access, they always allow users to access the lesson workbook for each course they’ve taken.

MasterClass notes
Masterclass workbook

MasterClass Community

MasterClass emphasizes the community aspect of its online learning. They’ve created an interactive student Hub to discuss and ask questions about the classes. You can also post some of your work.

For example, one student posted his lesson notes and takeaways from David Mamet’s rules for screenwriting. Although I spent little time in the Hub, it’s a valuable resource for students who value learning from other students.

Since I joined MasterClass, the team has rolled out many improvements to the Hub that go way beyond basic video lessons. Masterclass also features office hours. Here, students can ask their teachers questions. For example, one student, John Zucker, asked Martin how to find your voice and received a reply.

Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Community
Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Community

The MasterClass App

The app works on an Android, iPhone, and even an Apple T.V. I used it on my iPhone and iPad while researching this review. You can speed up or slow down the hours of videos. It supports closed captioning or subtitles. You can select whether you want to watch MasterClass videos or listen to the audio. You can also save lessons from offline viewing.

MasterClass will indicate if a particular online class is best suited to a video or audio format. It depends on whether the instructor is demonstrating something in front of the camera or talking straight to the camera.

The Masterclass App
The Masterclass App

Quick List

A specialty of the annual membership pass is that if you pause watching a video lesson, it shows you suggestions of related segments from other courses. This feature is similar to NetFlix‘s and is called a Quick List. Editors compile a few classes related to the same theme using a quick list.

So, if you were watching chef Gabriela Camara’s lesson on cooking Tacos al Pastor, you may be recommended a cooking lesson from another chef. For example, a lesson on knife skills from Gordon Ramsay‘s MasterClass or a MasterClass video on Sous Vide cooking by chef Thomas Keller.


MasterClass Snapshots presents a single class or lesson from the chosen MasterClass straight in the app for iOS and Android. This will give you an idea of what a MasterClass looks like and if the teacher is right for you before you invest hours of your time in a particular craft. One particular snapshot worth watching is Creating the Illusion of Control by Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator. 

What is a MasterClass Like?

MasterClass videos are well-produced videos ranging between five and 10 minutes long. A course is usually several hours long and includes exercises, worksheets, and reading materials.

That length was digestible enough for me to watch a playlist at lunch. I’ve admired Steve Martin’s comedy and films over the years and took his course first. In this online course, he condenses everything he has learned about the craft of comedy and draws on many anecdotes from his colorful career.

That’s a lot of insights, as he’s in his 70s! In the real world, it isn’t easy to get access to quality materials like this. Steve Martin’s MasterClass course contains 25 lessons and takes about five hours to complete

Masterclass lesson plan
Masterclass lesson plan

My Favorite MasterClass Courses

Over the past few years, Masterclass has broken into other areas beyond writing and the creative arts. Need examples? Here are plenty of them:

  • American tennis sensation Serena Williams teaches tennis as part of her MasterClass.
  • Academy award-winning Hans Zimmer teaches film score
  • Werner Herzog and Martin Scorsese teach filmmaking
  • Annie Leibovitz teaches her philosophy of photography in her photography MasterClass. 
  • Chris Hadfield teaches space exploration.
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches scientific thinking
  • Garry Kasparov teaches chess
  • Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy) teaches T.V. writing
  • Stephen Curry teaches basketball
  • Herbie Hancock teaches jazz
  • Jimmy Chin teaches photography
A sele
A selection of the MasterClass series and courses

It’s hard to imagine a student will be interested in all these MasterClass, no matter how great the topics are. So while I found the writing classes helpful, I’m unlikely to learn country music from Reba McEntire anytime soon, no matter how talented she is. While you could take the “James Patterson Teaches Writing” MasterClass without knowing much about his books, you will learn far more if you’ve read some of his thrillers. So, which MasterClasses should you choose?

Should you learn about writing fiction like Neil Gaiman, making a BBQ like Aaron Franklin, adventure photography like Jimmy Chin, or picking up a skill like cooking from chef Gordan Ramsey? Start by exploring the classes by structure, discipline, or topic. A writer, for example, should take the following on MasterClass:

  • James Patterson Teaches Writing
  • David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing
  • Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting
  • Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing

You’ll get tips and advice about writing your story, and you will hear in Malcolm’s lecture that your account will undoubtedly change as you develop it. After these classes, writing thrillers will no longer look like a feat.

Meanwhile, a musician looking to advance her skill set is more likely to take “Deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production”, “Herbie Hancock Teaches Jazz”, “Christina Aguilera Teaches Singing”, or “Usher Teaches the Art of Performance.” If you’re still unsure what MasterClass to buy on this online learning platform, ask yourself, “Do I like this teacher and his or her materials?”

Most Popular MasterClass Course Reviews

1. David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humor Review

I’ve read several of David Sedaris’s books over the past few years, including the popular book Me Talk Pretty One Day and his 2018 book Calypso. I enjoy David Sedaris’ essays and how he always inserts color and humor into personal stories. So I was delighted to see he’s released a MastercCass where he gives insights into his writing process and how he finds ideas for his stories.

She talks about David’s writing and how it impacted their family life, which was fascinating. David struck me as likable, but I was particularly interested to hear about some of his sacrifices during his writing career. For example, he explains all the late nights out that he skipped and the parties that he didn’t go to so he could write his essays. He also talks about what it was like to get rejected as a young writer and eventually find a book deal.

Verdict: If you’re interested in writing stories or colorful pieces, Sedaris’s MasterClass is ideal.

2. Steve Martin MasterClass Review

I was familiar with Martin’s comedy. I’ve read his autobiography, Born Standing Up, and watched many of his stand-up shows.

Martin was a teacher I could learn from. In his MasterClass, Martin talks about how to find your comedic voice and how he writes and delivers jokes. It was fascinating to hear Martin talk about his early days in comedy and how he got started. The comedian also provides several practical takeaways. For example,

“Don’t be intimidated starting with nothing. In fact, if you start with nothing, the workaround can lead you to originality.”

Martin’s workshop includes materials from aspiring comedians and turns some 5/10 jokes into 9/10 laugh-out-loud jokes. This MasterClass was a fun insight into how the comedian Steve Martin approaches comedy writing. He also reflects on his career on stage and screen.

Each lesson was relatively short and included supporting PDFs, reading materials, and next steps. Martin is an engaging instructor too. If you take this class, I’d recommend reading his book Born Standing Up so you have some context to what he teaches. My biggest takeaway from Steve Martin’s MasterClass was how he learned to overcome his failures and successes. He says:

“It was only until the late 80s, I kept thinking I was going to go away. But I never went away. So why am I wasting all that grief? I survived somehow by the skin of my teeth. Some of that is luck.”

Verdict: I recommend taking this MasterClass if you want to improve your comedy writing skills or are a fan of Steve Martin’s work. Read our Steve Martin MasterClass review

3. Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass Review

I took the Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing MasterClass almost as soon as they released it in 2018. I write a lot of non-fiction and am a big fan of Gladwell’s work, including his books Blink and Outliers.

Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass is structured similarly to Steve Martin’s. I learned a lot about how Gladwell approaches his research and how he markets his writing and books. (Tip: don’t over-rely on Google!) Gladwell said he found himself in a curious position when others often misconstrued the book’s ideas and arguments. He added,

“Once you’ve written something, it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to your readers. When your readers buy your book, they really buy your ideas and your ideas become theirs.”

Verdict: this MasterClass class will improve your research and non-fiction writing skills. Read our Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review

4. Neil Gaiman MasterClass Review

I started taking this writing MasterClass class earlier in 2019. Amusingly, it’s set in a secluded cabin in the woods. What better place to write a great novel than somewhere holed away from society with no interruptions? Ok, so that’s not real life, but I enjoyed the look and feel of this class.

In the first lecture of the MasterClass class, Gaiman sums up exactly why I like MasterCllass. Gaiman is a professor of the arts at Bard College in New York, where he lectures about writing. Gaiman teaches 24-26 students a year, which he “loves.” However, through MasterClass:

“I can say the same things that I would say to them to millions of people. I know there are millions of people who want to write because they come to me and they ask me…I try and answer those questions on Tumblr and on Twitter and on my blog. [MasterClass] just seems to me like an incredibly efficient way to say everything I have to say to everybody.”

Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling contains 19 lectures that cover everything from writer’s block (a myth!) to editing to the rules for writers. The classes average between 14 and 25 minutes long. They also come with downloadable PDFs, writing exercises, and supplementary reading materials. For example, one activity in this MasterClass class offers the following task to students:

“Choose a page of writing you did recently—or use the story you rewrote in the first writing exercise of this chapter—and condense it by at least a third. If necessary, rewrite it completely, imagining a more economical way to tell the story.”

Verdict: If you want to write a novel, hone your storytelling, or enjoy Neil Gaiman’s baritone voice and ideas (what writer doesn’t?), start here. Read our Neil Gaiman MasterClass review.

5. David Lynch MasterClass Review

In 2019, MasterClass released this course with David Lynch. Each lesson in this Masterclass averages between fifteen and twenty-five minutes in length. Although I’m not a filmmaker, I was interested to hear where Lynch, director of films like Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, gets his ideas from. David Lynch’s MasterClass is shot in a film studio that looks a little like one of his offbeat films (with creepy music and all).

Lynch is an upbeat teacher with an intriguing insight into the creative process. The MasterClass is broken up with snippets from his films and T.V. shows, and art. He covers topics like:

  • Catching Ideas
  • Staying Through to Your IdeasCreativity and the Writing Process

Verdict: David Lynch Teaches Creativity and Film had fewer downloadable materials and PDFs than other MasterClasses.

However, I particularly enjoyed his bonus lecture about the power of transcendental meditation, even if he was short on specifics about how to get started with this practice. Want to learn more? Read our full David Lynch MasterClass review.

6. Aaron Franklin Teaches Texas-Style BBQ Review

In 2019, I traveled to Austin, Texas. The queue for the famous Franklin’s BBQ restaurant was over 90 minutes long. Over there, I tried beef brisket. When back in Ireland, I took this MasterClass out of curiosity. I learned what goes into a good BBQ, what wood to use, and how to cook a decent steak on a grill. Franklin prepares and cooks before the camera and even cracks open a beer. A BBQ course should be hands-on, so I watched this one on my mobile while firing up a BBQ.

Verdict: It was a great cooking class, fun, and an excellent alternative to my usual writing classes. 

7. Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy

I enjoyed hearing about how Judd Apatow transitioned from writing stand-up comedy to screenwriting. He recounts how he came up with ideas for hit films like Trainwreck and Knocked Up and goes through his iterative writing process for each film.

Apatow also guides ideal writing habits for aspiring screenwriters and is a big believer in the vomit draft. After learning he was Apatow’s mentor, I watched a documentary about Garry Shandling. He’s one of the warmer, funnier teachers on MasterClass. Much like his films, this is a long one with 32 lessons to watch!

Verdict: Ideal for comedy and screenwriters. An appreciation or understanding of Apatow’s films helps.

8. Bill Collins Teaches Reading And Writing Poetry

I hadn’t heard of Collins till enrolling, and it took me a few weeks to get through all twenty video lessons. Since high school, he wanted to be a poet and began his career by following around with words.

I also enjoyed hearing about Collins’ journey as a poet. He offers some good advice about rejection and what to do when you finally get published. I used some insights from Collins to write Haiku for my next book.

Verdict: an accessible poetry course for beginners.

9. Bob Iger Teaches Business Strategy and Leadership

This is one of the shorter MasterClass video courses. I got through all 13 lessons in just over a week by watching them at lunch. Iger’s MasterClass covers similar ground to his book. He recounts acquisitions of Marvel and Pixar and properties like Star Wars.

I’m unsure if I will learn much about becoming a corporate CEO (hardly my dream). I got more from his advice about the importance of brand value and how Disney views its identity. He also talks a little about focus and goal setting.

Verdict: a lot like Iger’s autobiography. Also, relatively short.

10. Thomas Keller Teaches Cooking Techniques

Gordan Ramsay’s Masterclass was one of the company’s most popular courses. So they followed up with this course from American chef and restauranteur Thomas Keller. It’s quite a short course and focuses on meat dishes like sauté chicken and wiener schnitzel.

Pros of MasterClass

I felt inspired to watch many of these great professionals discuss the creative process, their techniques, art, books, and more. In some cases, they were condensing a lifetime’s experiences. MasterClass videos are also produced first-rate and are of high quality. They are shot in high definition and tightly edited.

The production quality of Masterclass is first-rate. It aims to become the Netflix of e-learning. It regularly adds new classes from instructors at the top of their game, like “Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing”, which I immediately added to my watch list. Some of the best MasterClass courses for writers include:

  • Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art of Storytelling
  • Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers
  • Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing

Each online class and lecture is unique to the techniques and methods of the instructor. For example, Margaret Atwood includes a speculative fiction case study of the story A Handmaid’s Tale, while Dan Brown includes a character case study of the Da Vinci Code. I also liked the MasterClass App for the iPhone. It was easy to use, and I could save lessons as favorites, adjust the playback speed, and watch them over a cup of coffee at lunch.

Compared with other creative courses, MasterClass is also affordable. For example, you can spend thousands of dollars on an MFA. Or you can spend several hundred dollars taking online writing classes. With MasterClass, you can start learning for as little as $180 a year.

Cons of MasterClass

The creators are going after a broad audience. Sometimes, teachers spoke to many people with different interests. Some of the classes felt like the teacher was riffing on the topic.

I’ve taken several in-person writing classes. MasterClass is excellent, but it isn’t easy to replace the one-to-one feedback you can get from a teacher in a classroom environment. Unlike some online courses, it doesn’t allow users to download video lessons. Still, it’s a good deal for just $180 a year.

MasterClass Alternatives

Alternatives to MasterClass include the Great Courses, LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, Coursera, Udemy, and Creative Live. These vary by price point, curriculum, and ideal audience. However, none offer celebrity instructors like Neil Gaiman, Natalie Portman, or Gordan Ramsay.

You can buy individual Great Courses from their site for approximately $39.99. They also offer a dedicated app. It’s suitable for those who want to take in-depth courses about science and the arts from academics. The courses on Great Courses are also much longer. A typical lecture on this online education platform is 35 to 40 minutes.

CreativeLive is an online education alternative to MasterClass for bloggers and entrepreneurs. It focuses on creative skills like photography and blogging. For more, read our CreativeLive review. Skillshare is another popular online learning platform. However, it’s more suited to bloggers, YouTubbers, content creators and aspiring coders. For more, read our Skillshare review.

LinkedIn Learning offers affordable courses ideal for professional development, for example, professional development. For more, read our LinkedIn Learning review. The production quality of courses on Skillshare, Udemy and Khan Academy varies greatly and doesn’t compare favorably.

Is MasterClass Actually Good?

MasterClass is good if you’re happy learning at your own pace. The sheer depth of courses means makes it easy for students to learn from someone they admire. It’s all but impossible to learn from many of these celebrity instructors otherwise. MasterClass is a particularly good choice for creatives and professionals.

Pick one course and see if this method is learning relevant new skills. The annual membership pass is helpful if you plan to take more than one class this year. You can invest a modest amount in your craft and learn from current experts and Hollywood icons without spending thousands of dollars on a fancy MFA. If you don’t like it, take advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Whether you are a chef looking for new ways to use white truffle, part of a band of musicians interested in dance music, or a writer seeking a lecture on writing thrillers, MasterClass has a variety of courses on offer for learners, each with a workbook for your benefit. Think of it as a blend of YouTube, a structured online education platform, and NetFlix – you get a great entertaining learning experience!

Why You Can Trust Us

I’ve written and published dozens of articles for newspapers, magazines and online publications, including, Forbes and Lifehacker. I’m also a best-selling non-fiction author, a trained journalist and a copywriter.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars taking writing courses in college and online. Taking classes on platforms like MasterClass is crucial to my development as a writer and online entrepreneur. I also sometimes commission other writers to review these courses to get another point of view.

Review of Masterclass Testing Criteria

We became a customer in 2017 and have an annual MasterClass subscription. We regularly update this MasterClass review as new courses are released. Along with the help of a team of writers, we take and review popular MasterClass writing courses on mobile and desktop devices and even on T.V. We take notes about these courses and consider who they’re for and their strengths and weaknesses.


Can I watch MasterClass on my T.V.?

Yes. Use a Google Chromecast with the Masterclass or dedicated Apple T.V. apps. MasterClass is also available on Amazon Fire T.V., Android T.V., and Roku devices.

How long is each class on MasterClass?

Some of the older MasterClass lectures last for five to ten minutes. The class lasts one to four hours. You can adjust the playback speed of a lecture. The newer ones, like Neil Gaiman’s, are longer. One lesson I took was approximately 30 minutes.

Is there any writing MasterClass for children?

R.L. Steine teaches how to write for young audiences.

Does MasterClass offer classes in basic programming or coding?

No. They emphasize softer creative skills, like writing, music, cooking, etc.

Why is MasterClass so expensive?

Arguably, it’s not. An annual membership pass costs about $180. Many premium online courses cost over $2000.

How can I cancel MasterClass?

You can cancel via your account settings before your annual membership pass expires. They also have a 30-day refund policy. Email support at [email protected] or cancel via the settings section in your account.

Can you pay for MasterClass monthly?

MasterClass offers an annual membership pass that costs $180 per year.

Which is the highest-rated MasterClass?

Chris Voss Teaches the Art of Negotiation is the most popular MasterClass with over 22 million views. It’s closely followed by Neil deGrasse Tyson Teaches Scientific Thinking and Communication, and Dr. Jane Goodall Teaches Conversation. Some other popular MasterClass courses include those from Neil Gaiman, Gordan Ramsey and Christina Aguilera.