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What Is MasterClass and Is It Worth the Hype?

E-Learning is one of the fastest ways to acquire skills in any field. From big names like Coursera and Udemy to little-known brands scattered around the internet, e-learning platforms come in different forms.

Some of them offer quality, well-structured courses delivered by good instructors. But how about MasterClass, the e-learning platform that has been filling our screens with sleek ads? Where does it belong in the quality spectrum?


What Is MasterClass?

Screenshot of the MasterClass homepage

If you’ve used an e-learning platform like edX and Coursera, then you probably have an idea of what MasterClass looks like. However, MasterClass takes a less conventional approach to teaching. You don’t get traditional academia or classroom-style lessons.

Instead, you get masterclasses—complex topics broken down by subject area experts with enormous real-world experience in their field. Unlike most e-learning brands, MasterClass places an emphasis on the quality of courses and the instructors that deliver them.

With instructors like Samuel L. Jackson teaching acting, Serena Williams teaching tennis, and John Legend giving songwriting tutorials, MasterClass has huge prestige. MasterClass is largely accessible only to industry experts and people with a proven track record of success in their fields.

But apart from the allure of celebrities and big names, what’s the MasterClass platform like? Do the offered courses live up to the hype? And perhaps more importantly, is it worth your time and money?

The Quality of MasterClass Instructors and Courses

MasterClass courses and instructors
Once you get a MasterClass subscription, the first positive thing you’ll notice is the production quality of the lesson videos. Watch it on a smartphone, PC, or TV, and you’ll still get crisp, clear pictures. The videos are typically well-lit, high-definition videos shot by filmmaking experts who know how to handle lighting and sets.

However, if you’re paying for MasterClass classes, you’ll want more than just good video quality. You’ll need high-value content as well. Does MasterClass live up to the hype on this metric?

The Quality of MasterClass Instructors

Mariah Carey's class on MasterClass


We sampled three MasterClass classes: Margaret Atwood’s masterclass on creative writing, Chris Hadfield’s masterclass on space exploration, and Chris Voss’s masterclass on the art of negotiation.

In terms of the quality of instructors, it couldn’t get any better than that. For context, Margaret Atwood is a renowned writer and author of the popular dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. Chris Hadfield is a former commander of the International Space Station, while Chris Voss is a highly successful former FBI hostage negotiator.

While not all the so-called big names are particularly great instructors, they find creative ways to impact as much knowledge as possible. MasterClass has a production team that works with every instructor, so they’re able to catch any letdowns in each MasterClass video and fix them before it is published.

The instructors deliver lessons in an immersive way that makes you feel as if they are having a one-on-one session with you.

The Quality of MasterClass Courses

Quality of MasterClass courses
MasterClass courses are typically short, with a lot of them less than five hours. It took about two days to complete the three courses we sampled. All three courses had around 15 hours of videos in total.

MasterClass classes typically give an overview of topics with some in-depth explanation. For instance, Hadfield’s space exploration class we sampled gives you a run-down of what space exploration looks like from an insider’s perspective.

It provides enough to help you grow your knowledge of the field, but perhaps not enough details to make a career decision. But to be fair, space exploration is a bit of rocket science—so it wouldn’t exactly be easy to break it down in the seven hours running time of the video.

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