This post was originally published this past winter but I have updated it as I’ve taken quite a few new classes and it’s something that comes up quite a bit in today’s episode of Bad on Paper, which (in the spirit of back to school) is all about the importance of being a lifelong learner. Becca and I had both separately renewed our Masterclass subscriptions and are huge fans of the platform… we both talk about our favorite classes in the episode but it’s one of my favorite ways to learn something new and they’re constantly adding new classes.
I have talked about Masterclass in my 2021 goals post and also on the podcast, but a big goal of mine is to spend a couple hours a week learning something new or exploring an interest. It can be any interest or random thing I’m feeling curious about, but I think that continuing to learn is so so important. For me, this looks like watching more documentaries, listening to educational podcasts, reading non-fiction, actually reading all those beautiful art books, and of course… MasterClass!
I love MasterClass – it’s been a great way to pass the time during quarantine, and I have learned so much from taking their classes.
What is MasterClass
MasterClass offers courses for students of all skill levels, across a realllllly wide array of interests: everything from screenwriting (Becca LOVED Shonda Rhimes’ class) to writing thrillers (Dan Brown has a course!), interior design to cooking (there are so many really specific cooking courses) and beyond. If there’s something you are even vaguely interested in, there is probably a MasterClass for it! A one year membership is $180 ($15/month but it’s billed all at once) and with that you get access to TONS of classes. There are a lot of online courses out there but in my opinion, MasterClass is the best one.
You can stream Masterclass video anywhere (I like to watch them on my TV) or even download the courses to watch them offline, and each course is also accompanied by a PDF workbook. There is literally everything you could ever want to learn about… from acting with Natalie Portman and comedy with Steve Martin to the nerdier more niche stuff (I’m kinda tempted to take Space Exploration with astronaut Chris Hadfield?).
And it never gets old: every month they add new classes. This month they added several new ones but I’m particularly excited to learn more about the science of sleep with Matthew Walker. Also: Art and creativity with Jeff Koons!
How MasterClass Works
Once you get a membership, you can take any class and watch Masterclass courses at your own pace. The classes feature pre-recorded content, broken down into short lessons. Each course is about 3.5 hours of video, which in my opinion is manageable enough to not be intimidating… but still enough time to go deep. On average, each course is about twenty lessons, and each lesson is about 10 minutes long. It’s easy to take one or two during your lunch break, or first thing in the morning to get inspired, etc.
One thing that Becca mentioned on the podcast today is that she knows a lot of people who will listen to Masterclass without the video… like you would for a podcast. You can’t do that for all of them (some are really visual) but it would work for a lot of the courses.
The Best MasterClass Courses
Here are a few of the best (in my opinion!) MasterClass courses. Note that this is just a quick list, and as I take more courses (I’m pretty hooked!) I will absolutely update this! (Please leave your favs in the comments section, if you’re a member!)
Effective Communication with Robin Roberts
A few of you suggested taking this course and I was so excited for it.. I am always trying to improve my communication skills, especially for the podcast and the interviews that we do there. So I really enjoyed this course. I will say that (as with a lot of Masterclass courses) she definitely gets to the good stuff in the end. The segment on TV interviews was probably the most impactful for me when it came to purely tactical advice, as were the last couple segments about optimism. I love how she says that optimism is a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it!
Interior Design with Kelly Wearstler
This was the first MasterClass I ever took. I have several of Kelly’s books (and a lamp) and love her style and taste. I learned a lot from this, especially around creativity and defining your aesthetic.
Screenwriting with Shonda Rhimes
I will admit that I have not personally watched this one (and honestly I probably won’t, as it isn’t high on my list of priorities/interests) but Becca swore by this one up and down and said she learned so much from it before she wrote RomComPods. I will take her word for it!
Creativity and Leadership with Anna Wintour
I mean, talk about learning from the best. To get to get this level of access to Anna is very cool. She shares her management tips, decision making tips, and advice for developing your own personal brand and vision. I really loved this one.
Malcom Gladwell teaches Writing
Malcom Gladwell is one of my favorite writers (he wrote The Tipping Point and Blink, amongst other things) so I loved hearing from him. From research to character development to grabbing and holding your readers’ attention, this book has it all. I will note that Masterclass has a TON of writing courses, I hope to eventually take them all. There is creative writing with Margaret Atwood, writing thrillers with Dan Brown, writing with James Patterson, fiction and story telling with Walter Mosley, more story telling with Neil Gaiman… I could go on! If you want to up your writing game, MasterClass is definitely for you – you can learn from so many of the greats!!!
Bobbi Brown teaches Makeup and Beauty
I loved this one. Bobbi Brown is a genius when it comes to beautiful, natural makeup and her course taught me SO much, just in terms of skills and techniques to applying simple makeup. I loved the smoky eye tutorial in particular as that is something that’s always been challenging for me.
Cooking Techniques with Thomas Keller
Thomas Keller (the chef behind The French Laundry) has a couple different cooking technique classes with MasterClass. I took the class about meats, stocks, and sauces (making dad proud!) but there’s also a great one with vegetables, pasta, and eggs. I am big on the cooking technique classes as they really help you to up your game. Gordon Ramsey has a knife skills class and that is high on my list to take next!
Anna Wintour teaches creativity and leadership
I loved hearing from Anna. Whether or not you like her, she is both a creative visionary and a leader. I’ve always just been curious about her as a person so really enjoyed this. It’s incredible to hear how she makes decisions, nurtures upcoming talent, and built such powerful brands.
Bobbi Brown teaches makeup and beauty
If you ask me, this class alone makes a Masterclass membership worth it. Learning all the makeup basics and techniques from Bobbi Brown was invaluable. From foundation tips and tricks to more advanced stuff like editorial makeup, transitioning from day to night, or creating a statement lip. SO hands on and helpful, way better than Youtube if you ask me.
Sara Blakely teaches self-made entrepreneurship
I loved hearing Sara Blakely’s story. As the founder of Spanx she is actually the youngest female self-made billionaire… pretty incredible. I think anyone even thinking about starting their own business or brand could benefit a lot from this one!
Is It Worth It?
In my opinion, MasterClass is absolutely worth it. A one year long membership is $180. So broken down per month, it’s just $15 per month which is about the same as a Netflix membership. (And frankly, I would like to spend more time watching this and less time on Netflix… but I’m not always sure my brain is ready for that!) If you are disciplined and use it regularly, you can easily take a course or two or even three a month… maybe even more. That’s a lot of learning and a lot of access to some of the most incredible and inspiring people in the world.
I’ll add that it’s probably more valuable to certain interests and careers. Writing is a big one, as is FOOD and cooking. There are also a lot of great courses about entrepreneurship and finding your purpose.
It’s important to note that you can completely try before you fully commit. There is a 7 day free trial and also a 30-day money back guarantee too so if for some reason you are unhappy or hate it, they will refund you in full.
Have you tried Masterclass? What are your favorite classes?