Heard about MasterClass Sessions and wondering what they are, how they work, who teaches them and – ultimately – are MasterClass Sessions worth it?
Then you’re in the right place.
I’ve been a MasterClass member for three years and I’ve taken a number of these new MasterClass Sessions. They’re quite different. Whereas regular MasterClasses can be taken on demand and at your own pace. Sessions are project led and designed in a way that’s designed to build community.
But are they for you?
This MasterClass Sessions review will tell you everything you need to know to answer that question, and more.
It’s fairly detailed so if you’re short on time here are the headlines:
What are MasterClass Sessions? They are courses which:
- Start on a specific date so you join with a cohort of fellow learners
- Are active, hands-on and project led
- Follow a 30 day curriculum
- Provide meaningful feedback from your peers and trained teaching assistants
At the time of writing available MasterClass Sessions include:
- Produce and post four compelling videos with Marques Brownlee (AKA MKHD, 15.5 million followers on YouTube)
- Put 12 negotiation proven techniques into action to achieve your workplace goals with Chris Voss (former lead negotiator with the FBI)
- Produce an original photo series with Petra Collins (photographer for Vogue, Elle, Calvin Klein and Stella McCartney)
- Create three makeup looks with Sir John (makeup artist to Beyonce amongst many others)
- Turn out five award worthy bakes and craft three original recipes with Joanne Chang (holder of the James Beard award for outstanding baking)
- Build your own streaming streaming channel with Ninja (the world’s most famous game streamer with 18 million followers)
- Create four stunning floral arrangements and design one of your own with Maurice Harris (floral designer for Dior, Dolce and Gabbana and Louis Vuitton to name a few)
- Learn from virtuosos in their fields
- Meticulously structured courses with great practical assignments that build skills incrementally
- Feedback provided by a community of fellow students
- Learning supported by amazing graphics, visuals and guides
- Often more suited to beginner/intermediate students
- Sometimes lack technical, in-depth detail
Cost: In individual MasterClass subscription is $15 per month (billed annually) giving you access to every Session and all 150 regular MasterClasses
Best for: Anyone who loves to learn by doing, is seeking a complete overview of how to master the skills on offer and wants to learn from those at the top of their fields.
Overall: In these highly practical, project based sessions you’ll learn how to turn your interests and passions into practical reality in just 30 days. You will get the chance to give and receive meaningful feedback from a community of peers and have all your questions answered by trained teaching assistants.
What are MasterClass Sessions and how do they Work?
MasterClass has addressed this by offering MasterClass Sessions.
MasterClass sessions are little different from regular MasterClasses in that they are:
- Time bound classes – you start them with a cohort of fellow students
- Designed to be completed in carefully structured sections over 30 days (though you can complete them more quickly if you wish)
- Project based with a range of hands-on, practical assignments
- Community oriented – you receive feedback on your assignments from trained teaching assistants and your cohort of peers. You also get to review the work of others and offer advice, praise and feedback to them
This style of learning is known as Cohort Learning.
We’ve researched the impact of Cohort Learning at Learnopoly and you can read the stats here. But in summary, you’re way more likely to remember the learning you experience when you interact with a community of peers.
What’s included in a MasterClass Session?
- An outcome focused 30 day thoughtfully structured curriculum
- Clear learning outcomes and objectives
- A project based assignment with tasks that incrementally build knowledge and skills
- Access to a community of fellow students who start the course at the same time as you who are your audience and provide feedback
- Access to trained teaching assistants for support, advice and answers to all your questions
- Downloadable guides to support and supplement learning
- Framework checklists and/or criteria rubrics for you to evaluate what works
What Sessions are available and what will you learn?
Marques Brownlee – make compelling videos that go viral
In this highly practical session you’ll learn how to take your passions online and create thumb-stopping content. From inception, through to packaging (and everything in between) you’ll gain all the production experience you need to have four amazing videos ready to post in just 30 days.
Marques Brownlee (aka MKBHD) is quite simply the go-to YouTuber for advice and guidance on all-things tech. His 15m+ subscribers, 3bn views, and his interviews with tech giants like Bill Gates and Elon Musk are testimony to the trust folks invest in him.
Holder of the Shorty award for ‘Creator of the Decade’, MKBHD has also been described by a former Google VP as the, “best technology reviewer on the planet”.
The Session syllabus covers:
- Landing on ideas for your first (or next) video and using a framework checklist to be used as a point of reference throughout the class
- Technical best practices: Cameras, lenses and lighting (for every budget)
- Connecting with your audience including eyeline communication and voice delivery
- Creating better visuals: Shooting stable B-Roll, using stock footage and editing
- Packaging your video: creating titles and thumbnails for maximum findability
Read our full Marques Brownlee MasterClass Sessions review.
Win workplace negotiation with Chris Voss
In this easy to follow, brilliantly structured Session you’ll gain, and put into action, 12 proven negotiation techniques. You’ll see them in action with members of his negotiation consultancy, deploy them yourself, and learn how these techniques can be combined to achieve your workplace goals in a logical, win-win, collaborative way.
As a former lead negotiator for the FBI, Voss has decades of experience of high-stakes negotiations – including more than 150 international hostage cases. Now retired, Voss has turned his hand to business negotiation. He is CEO and founder of the negotiation consultancy the Black Swan Group and author of the international best seller, Never Split the Difference: negotiating as if your life depends on it.This Session is divided into 8 sections including:
- Introduction to Chris and his team, goal setting
- Becoming the best person at work – including the techniques of mirroring, labeling and dynamic silence
- Strengthen your workplace influence – including how to use calibrated and no-oriented questions
- Create epiphanies to land the deal – basically how to break down barriers and inspire mutual moments of understanding
- Getting to the agreement – employing an understanding of the concepts of fairness and loss aversion to achieve a favourable agreement
- Negotiating your future – practice everything learned to negotiate a job offer
Read our review of the separate Chris Voss MasterClass.
Capture your visions through photography with Petra Collins
In just 30 days Petra will move from compiling a photography starter kit through to building a world with your photography. You’ll get to plan, shoot and develop a series of photographs that bring your unique vision and perspective to life.
Petra’s work has achieved worldwide recognition. She is a frequent editorial photographer for Vogue and Elle, and has photographed ad campaigns for brands such as Adidas, Calvin Klein and Stella McCartney.
Petra’s session covers:
- Gearing up for inspiration: compiling a starter kit and expanding your creativity
- Understanding your camera and lighting techniques including operating your camera in natural and source light
- Portraits and understanding your subject: working with your subject and capturing light for the best composition
- Creating your series: interweaving the skills you have learned to create and share your photo series
Create Makeup looks for any moment with Sir John
In this Session you’ll get to learn, and deploy, the exact techniques Sir John uses on his celebrity clients. At the end of 30 days you’ll know what to buy, what to keep, what to throw away and how to create three looks for every occasion that “are going to rock your world.”
Sir John is a globally famous makeup artist whose star studded clients include Beyonce, Karlie Kloss, Mary J Blige, Serena Williams, Naomi Campbell and Kim Kardashian to name but a few. He is also a consultant and make-up artist for several beauty brands including L'Oreal Paris.
Sir John’s Session is divided into 8 sections including:
- How to rethink your approach to beauty and celebrate yourself and others
- Skincare: Loving and caring for the skin you’re in
- Your makeup kit: the must haves
- The no makeup look, the everyday look and the icon look. You’ll get to share each of these and build up the confidence of others on your learning journey by feeding back on theirs
Create 8 award worthy bakes with Joanne Chang
Become the baker of your dreams in this Session with Joane Chang. She’ll walk you through everything you need to know to walk away with five award worthy bakes. You’ll learn not just how to bake amazing cookies, pies, brioche and cakes, but what works and why so that you will have the confidence to create three unique bakes of your own.
Holder of the James Beard award for outstanding baker, Joanne Chang is a pastry chef, restaurant owner, author of five cookbooks and co-owner of the Flour Bakery and Cafe.
Her curriculum is divided into six sections and includes lessons on:
- Preparing to bake, essential kit and developing a baker’s mindset
- Follow along lessons for baking
- And cakes
- And pro tips and practical guides on how to customize these recipes – what works and why
Build your streaming brand with Ninja
Anyone into gaming has heard of ‘Ninja’ Bevins. He’s probably the most famous game streamer in the world. In fact, as of July 2022, his was the most followed twitch stream channel with 18 million followers globally.
Ninja's Session takes you step by step through the foundations of streaming content, creating a brand and building an online following. In just 30 days you’ll find your unique vision, voice and streaming persona and go live with a range of content.
His 30 day curriculum breaks down into six sections and covers:
- A guide to streaming technology with a downloadable glossary
- All the essentials you need for streaming – with suggestions for every budget
- Using backgrounds, lighting and framing to amp up your set up
- Finding and honing your streaming persona
- Pro tips on engaging your audience, growing your community and evolving your style
- Tricks and tips for deploying social media and collaboration to boost your stream
Design 5 stunning floral arrangements with Maurice Harris
Maurice Harris is one of the most sought after floral designers in LA and the visionary and artist behind floral design studio Blume and Plume. His clients include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana to name only a few.
In his Session Maurice will help you uncover and transform your unique creative flair into an original floral style. The aim is not only to create four stunning arrangements under Maurice’s guidance, but to gain the confidence to conceive one that is entirely your own.
Maurice’s session is broken down into seven sections incorporating:
- Exploring and sharing your creative influences and the things that ‘move you’
- The tools and tricks of flower arranging
- Everything you need to know to create a classic single stem design
- Conceiving and building a long, low multi flower design to wow guests at a dinner party
- Weaving a spiral bouquet for a bride
- Creating a seasonal wreath
- Creating your own masterpiece
Participants in the US will also have access to exclusive offers and discounts from Farmgirl flowers and FlowerFarm.
How I reviewed MasterClass Sessions
I've been a MasterClass member for three years and have taken, and reviewed, over 25 MasterClasses in full. I've also researched cohort based learning. So I was excited when MasterClass introduced Sessions and intrigued to know how the platform would implement this form of eLearning.
I took the Marques Brownlee course in full and have sampled all of the other Sessions. I explored their curricula, tasks, projects and resources, and read through the comments on the relevant communities to weigh up the level of engagement for each course.
The Sessions on topics I knew something about gave me the opportunity to gauge the quality of the teaching. And those I knew little or nothing about meant I could check out whether there was good introductory content and incremental teaching that kept me engaged and learning.
This put me in a good position to lay out the pros and cons of MasterClass Sessions.
What are the benefits of MasterClass Sessions?
Learn from the best in the business
Whatever Session you choose to look at, the tutor will always be someone who is a virtuoso in their field of endeavour.
So you will be privy to knowledge, skills and pro-tips that the best in the business have learned the hard way.
Famed for its rigour when it comes to quality of content and learning materials, MasterClass also brings the very best communication and teaching skills out of its tutors. This combination provides a unique and compelling learning experience..
Carefully structured course with practical assignments
These courses are meticulously structured.
The bite sized lessons are easily digestible so you can learn quickly and get to work straight away.
Skills are taught in a carefully structured way so that knowledge is developed incrementally and tasks and projects build on each other logically.
Responsive community for feedback
MasterClass has effectively addressed this drawback by offering Sessions.
Sessions always start at a specific time with a cohort of fellow students. This cohort effectively becomes your audience. As you progress through the lessons you can seek advice, share successes and gain feedback from this community. As well, of course, as providing feedback for others.
We’ve researched this style of learning at Learnopoly and you can read the stats here. But in summary, you’re way more likely to finish a course and way more likely to remember it when you feel a sense of community.
And in the sessions I’ve experienced, the communities are active and responsive.
What are the disadvantages of MasterClass sessions?
Content is usually tipped towards beginners or intermediates
None of the Sessions I took or sampled assumed an existing level of knowledge. Which is, of course, a pro if you are interested in learning something entirely new.
That said, there are lots of pro tips that seasoned practitioners could benefit from. And if you are a particular admirer of the person taking the Session you get some great insights into their journey and process.
However, if you already something of an expert on the topic you are considering taking a Session in, it's a good idea to watch the YouTube trailer for it carefully, read the comments and set your expectations according.
Sometimes lack technical detail
This only applies to the more technical Sessions such as video content creation, photography and creating your own streaming channel.
These Sessions are incredibly broad and do cover everything you need to know to complete the projects. But they do not always go into great technical depth.
For example Marques Brownlee’s course on video content creation lacks granular detail on editing.
However, each section is supported by downloadable guides and if you want to take your learning further these supply additional supporting explanations and advice.
MasterClass Sessions vs MasterClass classes
I’ll start out by saying what MasterClass Sessions have in common.
MasterClass classes and MasterClass sessions are both:
- Taught by those who’ve garnered global recognition in their fields
- Famed for their outstanding production values
- Rigorous when it comes to quality of content and learning materials
The differences are that Sessions are based on the cohort learning model. That is they are:
Time-bound. You always start a Session on a specific date with a cohort of peers. Whereas Classes are available to start at any time. Sessions are also designed to be completed in 30 days, whereas Classes can be started and completed at any time while your membership is active.
100% practical, hands-on and project based. Sessions always involve the completion of tasks, assignments and projects. Some MaterClass Classes (like cooking) are also practical, but many are quite theoretical and knowledge based
Community based. The cohort of peers who start the session at the same time as you become your audience. And you become theirs. This provides the opportunity for quality interaction and feedback. Trained teaching assistants are also on hand to answer questions.
How much do MasterClass Sessions cost?
MasterClass is a subscription platform.
At the time of writing MasterClass had three subscription offers. The cost of these (per month) is:
- Individual (1 user) $15
- Duo (2 users) $20
- Family (6 users) $23
All are billed annually, which at first glance may seem pricey. However, you can considerably reduce your costs by taking as many courses as possible.
Your all access pass gives you access to all the Sessions along with over 150 other courses on the platform. So you’re likely to find quite a few to interest you. Even if you buy an individual membership and find only 10% of the courses of interest this still works out to only $12 a course:
$180 (annual individual membership fee) / 15 courses = $12.
Bearing in mind that these classes are taught by global leaders in their fields the value is unbeatable. You can pay over $100 for an online course taught by someone you’ve never even heard of, never mind the caliber of teachers on MasterClass.
What’s more, MasterClass also offers a 30 day refund if you’re unhappy with your purchase.
You can also purchase MasterClass as a gift.
How long does it take to complete a Session?
Every Session is designed to be completed in 30 days.
Average viewing/reading time is about three hours with lessons spread across several sections. You also need to build in time to complete the assignments and projects.
Once you get started with your cohort of fellow students, you can go at your own pace and complete the course in less time. The advantage of sticking to the 30 day format is that you are likely to get timely feedback from the community on your efforts. If you race ahead, your peers are unlikely to see your results until they catch up!
Are MasterClass Sessions worth it?
My answer: definitely.
These are highly practical, broad based and incredibly well taught and structured courses.
They offer the opportunity to learn in an active, project based way from those at the pinnacle of their respective fields.
By the end of the session, you will have completed several tasks and projects and received high quality feedback from those on the same journey as you, as well as trained teaching assistants.
However, it does depend on you, your experience, and what you’re hoping to get out of it.
IF you are already an expert in the Session topic you are interested in, you need to bear in mind that these Sessions are more geared towards beginners and intermediates.
That’s not to say you won’t get lots of game changing tips and wisdom. You will – but you need to set your expectations accordingly.
But remember, with a MasterClass Subscription you have access to over 150 other courses, all delivered by connoisseurs of their art. So the best way to get value for money is by taking as many courses as possible.
Practical, project based courses that follow a 30 day curriculum and which you start with a cohort of fellow students
You purchase a MasterClass subscription giving you access to everything on the platform including Sessions which start at a particular time and follow a 30 day curriculum
MasterClass Sessions are designed to be taken over 30 days. Viewing and reading time is generally around 3 hours broken down into several sessions and you need to build in time to complete tasks, assignments and projects
You can view all the videos in one go but you would not be able to finish all the projects (and provide and receive feedback) in one go
As long as you are a MasterClass member, you can return to the content of every Session you have completed at any time
Check the Sessions page (from the Home Screen) that you are interested in to see when the next one begins – they are very frequent.
Liz Hurley has 30+ years of high school teaching experience and is one of our senior writers here at Learnopoly.