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Masterclass in a top-quality online education provider. But is it worth it to buy? In this in-depth Masterclass Review you’ll learn everything you need to know to make that decision. Who is Masterclass for? Who are the Masterclass instructors? What are the writing Masterclasses like? And answers to your other Masterclass FAQs.
Table of Contents
An Overview of Masterclass
What is Masterclass?
Masterclass is an online education platform. It was created in 2015 by Aaron Rasmussen (an entrepreneur) and David Rogier (a film editor and director).
Masterclass is focused on education for creatives (think writers, photographers, musicians, chefs, and more). Each Masterclass is led by an expert or top industry professional in the field. Some examples include:
Masterclass is constantly updating and expanding its classes. Lately, they’ve been developing into the business and personal growth areas, along with others.
Who are the Masterclass instructors?
Masterclass instructors aren’t just anybody! They’re well-known experts in their field. The instructors are people with (often decades) of successful experiences to share. For example,
Who is Masterclass for?
Masterclass is ideal for those who want to learn more about creative endeavours. It’s perfect for people who want to customize their own learning experience and are willing to do additional research as needed.
Masterclass is pre-recorded lessons that you can do at your own pace. This means Masterclass is less than ideal for people who learn best from a structured environment.
Since every Masterclass is led by an expert in the field, Masterclass is not (typically) a beginner-level introductory walk through. These are experts, sharing their expert-level tips. Most Masterclasses are suitable to intermediate (or higher) level students.
Courses available on Masterclass
Here are a few examples from each of the categories that Masterclass offers:
Film & TV
Music & Entertainment
Business, Politics, & Society
Sports & Games
Design, Photography, & Fashion
Science & Technology
I’m going to go over all the courses for writers. I haven’t completed all of them (there are 12, after all). There’s definitely enough content to make your all-access year a busy one!
Neil Gaiman teaches the Art of Storytelling
Neil Gaiman is a British author. He writes for readers of all ages. He’s known for bestsellers such as Neverwhere, Stardust, The Sandman, and (my personal favorite) The Graveyard Book.
His Art of Storytelling Masterclass includes 19 lessons with a total length of 4 hours and 51 minutes.
Of all the Masterclass lectures I’ve watched (and I’ve watched one or two from a lot of different teachers), Neil Gaiman is my favorite. I would recommend Masterclass for this one class!
Judy Blume teaches Writing
Judy Blume is an American author. She’s best known for her (sometimes controversial) young adult novels such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Forever.
Her Writing Masterclass includes 24 lessons with a total length of 4 hours and 50 minutes.
This is another Masterclass that I just haven’t had time to start. It’s high on my list (aren’t they all?!) but time is so limited!
Dan Brown teaches Writing Thrillers
Dan Brown is an American author best known for his Robert Langdon series (which includes the highly popular The Da Vinci Code).
His Writing Thrillers Masterclass includes 12 lessons with a total length of 2 hours and 8 minutes.
I haven’t done any of this Masterclass (yet). The trailer makes him look like an inviting, knowledgable instructor so I’ll definitely give it a try. Hopefully by the end of 2020…
David Mamet teaches Dramatic Writing
David Mamet is a Pulitzer Prize winning American screenwriter and playwright.
His Dramatic Writing Masterclass includes 26 lessons with a total length of 4 hours and 51 minutes.
Haven’t started this and it’s no my chosen form of writing (I prefer novels) so it’s not at the top of my list. Although, it’s still on my list…
Margaret Atwood teaches Creative Writing
Margaret Atwood is a Canadian author best known for The Handmaid’s Tale (and it’s recent followup, The Testaments).
Her Creative Writing Masterclass includes 23 lessons with a total length of3 hours and 43 minutes.
Margaret’s Masterclass is a good one with a lot of examples from real stories (both her own and others). I really enjoyed the speculative fiction case study of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Joyce Carol Oates teaches the Art of the Short Story
Joyce Carol Oates is an American writer and critic. She’s published over 50 novels including Blonde and Big Mouth & Ugly Girl.
Her Art of the Short Story Masterclass includes 14 lessons with a total length of 3 hours and 21 minutes.
While I’m sure there’s a lot of valuable information to learn here, this is (another) Masterclass I haven’t started. One day…
R.L. Stine teaches Writing for Young Audiences
R.L. Stine is an American author. He’s often referred to as the “Stephen King of children’s literature.” He’s best known for 2 children’s horror series Goosebumps and Fear Street (which have sold over 400 million copies).
His Writing for Young Audiences Masterclass includes 28 lessons with a total length of 3 hours and 53 minutes.
I loved Goosebumps and Fear Street as a kid. They were so much fun to read. Bob’s Masterclass (he tells you to call him Bob) feels like a chat with a beloved mentor. You really feel like he’s imparting wisdom on you and like he wants to you to succeed. Not only that, he’s very practical about writing. It’s a job. He does it because he’s good at and he needs money.
David Baldacci teaches Mystery & Thriller Writing
David Baldacci is an American author. He writes bestselling crime and thriller novels (mostly – he has published a few children’s books as well).
His Mystery & Thriller Writing Masterclass includes 18 lessons with a total length of 3 hours and 46 minutes.
I don’t know if I’ve ever read a David Baldacci novel. Perhaps you could recommend one? I haven’t started his Masterclass. I have added, ‘read a David Baldacci book’ to my to-do list though.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches Writing
Malcolm Gladwell is a Canadian writer and journalist. He’s the author of several New York Times bestsellers including Blink and The Tipping Point.
His Writing Masterclass includes 23 lessons with a total length of 4 hours and 54 minutes.
This Masterclass seems focused on Non-Fiction (because Malcolm Gladwell is a non-fiction writer), but it can be really useful to all writers. There’s a lot to be learned here and I really enjoyed the lessons on how to read intelligently.
Billy Collins teaches Reading & Writing Poetry
Billy Collins is an American poet. The New York Times dubbed him “the most popular poet in America.”
His Reading & Writing Poetry Masterclass includes 20 lessons with a total length of 3 hours and 33 minutes.
This is a Masterclass aimed more at the beginner or person who doesn’t know much about poetry. That’s not to say it won’t be beneficial to those with a larger starting-base of knowledge, it will. Billy Collins is a phenomenal teacher and his Masterclass is packed with practical knowledge (and tips) about poetry.
David Sedaris teaches Storytelling & Humor
David Sedaris is an American author and comedian. He’s best known for Calypso, Theft By Finding, and Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.
His Storytelling & Humor Masterclass includes 15 lessons with a total length of 3 hours and 24 minutes.
David speaks directly to the camera in a casual and conversational manner. He makes you feel a bit less like a student and a bit more like a colleague.
David offers insight into many areas of writing including rejection, revision, and sacrifice. His sister makes an appearance to talk about the impacts of writing on family life.
Shonda Rhimes teaches Writing for Television
Shonda Rhimes is an American television writer, producer, and director. She’s known for hits including Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and more.
Her Writing for Television Masterclass includes 30 lessons with a total length of 6 hours and 15 minutes.
I’m not interested in writing for television, which is the only reason I haven’t watched this. I’m planning on watching it (like everything else…) because I’m a Grey’s Anatomy fan. Okay, so I’m secretly hoping for the end of the series so I can stop watching but I’m going to keep watching as long as it’s on.
James Patterson teaches Writing
James Patterson is an American author. He’s listed in the Guiness World Records as having the most New York Times bestsellers.
His Writing Masterclass includes 22 lessons with a total length of 3 hours and 31 minutes.
I have not started watching this Masterclass. James Patterson is a big name in publishing so it’s likely worthwhile to hear what he has to say. Another one on the (long) list…
Aaron Sorkin teaches Screenwriting
Aaron Sorkin is an award-winning American screenwriter. He’s known for hits including A Few Good Men, The West Wing, and The Social Network.
His Screenwriting Masterclass includes 13 lessons with a total length of 2 hours and 23 minutes.
This is another one that I haven’t started, and like Shonda Rhimes, it’s because I’m not as interested in the subject matter. Screenwriting is different and I’m not (currently) interested in it.
Other Courses Relevant to Writers
These two courses aren’t listed in the writing category, but I think comedy is particularly relevant to writers.
Judd Apatow teaches Comedy
Judd Apatow is an American writer, director, and comedian. He’s known for hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks.
His Comedy Masterclass includes 9 lessons with a total length of 2 hours and 6 minutes.
Judd is a super relatable instructor with a compelling delivery style. Even if you’re not particularly interested in comedy, you should definitely check out the Crafting Comedic Storylines lecture. It’s just under 21 minutes and it’s packed with helpful information for any writer.
Steve Martin teaches Comedy
Steve Martin is an American actor, comedian, and author. In 2004, Comedy Central ranked him the 6th best stand-up comic.
His Comedy Masterclass includes 12 lessons with a total length of 2 hours and 11 minutes.
This Masterclass can be found in “Music & Entertainment.” Even though it’s not marketed as a writing masterclass, it’s a valuable one for any writer. Steve dives into finding your comedic voice and writing (and delivering) jokes. Do it, that’s all I have to say!
The cost of Masterclass
Masterclass costs $180 (USD) per year.
Masterclass used to offer a lifetime purchase of courses (per course) but as of 2020, that’s no longer available.
Is there a free trial?
No (but maybe).
There *might* be a 24-hour free trial available. This was not an option when I purchased Masterclass, but it was available when I was writing this review.
What is the refund policy?
Masterclass offers a 30-day guarantee. According to their website, “if Masterclass isn’t for you, then email us within 30 days of the date you purchase your subscription, and we’ll offer a full refund.”
Can I get a discount?
Masterclass does not regularly offer discounts. They do periodically offer promotions.
What Masterclass includes
The All-Access Pass includes access to everything available on Masterclass for one-year..
You’ll have access to a catalogue of over 80 Masterclasses. Each Masterclass includes high-quality video lessons (an average of 20 per masterclass) and a class workbook.
Plus, you’ll also get access to the Masterclass community and an exclusive Masterclass newsletter.
What is the Masterclass community (aka The Hub)?
The Hub (or Masterclass community) is basically an online forum for Masterclass members.
There’s nothing wrong with The Hub but I didn’t find it particularly useful. It’s just not that active.
What’s a Masterclass like?
Each Masterclass will be a little different, but they contain an average of 20 high-quality video lessons. Each lesson will vary in length between 5 and 30 minutes long (with an average length of 10 minutes).
Every Masterclass will include a class workbook. They may also contain other downloadable materials (such as background material, reading lists, worksheets, and other materials).
What is a Masterclass lecture like?
Lectures are pre-recorded videos. They’re very high quality and average 10 minutes (but can be as short as 5 minutes and as long as 30 minutes).
Teaching styles vary. Instructors can speak directly to the camera, work with a student in the video, demonstrate something, or use another teaching method.
What are the Masterclass workbooks like?
The class workbooks contain summaries of the lectures. They may also contain questions (like homework) for you to answer, additional reading materials, and space to take notes.
My Thoughts on Masterclass
Masterclass costs $180 a year (that’s equal to $15 a month). I think it’s totally worth it.
What I like about Masterclass
There’s a lot that I like about Masterclass.
- Video Quality: Masterclass lectures are high-definition videos that are well edited.
- New Content: Masterclass adds a couple of new masterclasses every year.
- Expert Instructors: Masterclasses aren’t led by just anybody. These are experts in their fields, often with decades of experience.
- Price: When I first thought about buying Masterclass, I hesitated (for quite a while). It seems so expensive ($180 A YEAR). But it’s not because you’re getting high-quality production combined with expert instructors. These are not things that are quick or cheap to produce. The price point is more than fair for what you receive.
What I dislike about Masterclass
There are only a couple of things I dislike about Masterclass and none of them are enough to keep me from renewing my subscription.
- Lack of Diversity: there are a lot of Masterclasses being led by old(er) white men. For example, the writing category (which is the most relevant here on Herded Words) has 12 masterclasses available; 3 are led by white women, 1 male POC, and the remaining 8 are white men. The youngest writing masterclass teacher was born in 1964 & the oldest was born in 1938, making the teachers 56 to 82 years old.
- Note: Older instructors will have more experience in their field, which is a plus. However, younger instructors can still be experts and might have valuable information about starting a career in a more modern time. Pros and Cons.
- Mediocre Android App: the Android app is fine. But the iOS app is better. For someone who’s only going to use one of those apps, it’s not a big deal. If, like me, you have an iPad and an Android phone you might be frustrated with the Android app. The iOS app works a bit smoother and has a few extra features.
- Who’s the Audience? This criticism doesn’t apply to all lectures (or masterclasses). Some lectures feel unfocused, like the instructor doesn’t know who the audience, so they go overly broad to talk to “everyone” but end up saying nothing worthwhile for anyone.
Got questions? Get answers to the most common Masterclass FAQs here.
What devices does Masterclass support?
You can watch Masterclass from your personal computer, smartphone (via the web, Google Play app, or iOS app), on Apple TV, Amazon Firestick, Roku, and more!
Special note: The iOS app comes with the ability to download some (but not all) lessons to be watched offline.
Why is Masterclass so expensive?
It’s not. It seems expensive but once your realize what you’re getting (very high quality lessons led by an expert in the field), you realize what a bargain Masterclass really is.
How can I download Masterclasses?
You can only download (some) lectures in the iOS app. If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, you cannot download download lectures.
Android users, I’m with you. Give us the option to download!
Can I watch Masterclass on my TV?
If you have Apple TV, (4^th^ gen+), Amazon Fire TV, or Roju, just download the Masterclass App and start watching.
Other options are to use Google Chromecast or connect your laptop to your TV via an HDMI cable.
Where can I get a discount on Masterclass?
You can’t. Masterclass doesn’t offer discounts.
Sometimes, they’ll offer a promotion (available to everyone, no codes needed).
Try Masterclass Today!
Masterclass offers multiple writing classes led by some pretty big names in the industry. For just $180 a year, it’s a worthwhile investment in your writing future. Buy Your All-Access Masterclass Pass now!
Let me know your favorite Masterclass (writing or otherwise) in the comments below!
Masterclass can help you become a better writer. Kindle Unlimited can offer you more books to read. Check out my Kindle Unlimited Review next.
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