5 Best Masterclass Alternatives for Online Courses in 2022

By Rob Lennon
Course Marketing Lead
In this day and age, a lot of people are opting out of college: It costs the equivalent of an arm and a leg, and a lot of folks are in debt for years—sometimes even a decade!—long after they've graduated, even if they've been able to land a high-paying job!
As a result, many are turning to online courses as an alternative to a college degree, but mastering self-motivation can be extremely difficult, and students often only make it halfway through each course. 
Additionally, platforms such as Skillshare don't allow people to gauge their own level of expertise like a formal education would.
There are plenty of courses available online, but few of them follow cohort-based models. 


Yes, you can watch videos from some of the best in their fields, but, honestly, this platform does have its cons. 
The platform charges an annual subscription fee, which is quite convenient for most: $180 for an individual, a duo membership that you can watch on two devices simultaneously for $240, or a family plan for $276. 
While famous faces teach you about their passions in life through cinematic, bite-sized videos and Masterclass does provide each student with virtual workbooks, it's likely more suitable to the hobbyist than the full-time professional. Here's why: You can't exactly run your work by the teacher, and, while these people are masters of entertainment and delivery—and can provide you with a lot of information, it is up to you to actually engage in the activity you're learning about, make mistakes, and progress accordingly. 
On top of this, these courses are self-paced. 
As humans, the vast majority of us lack motivation. 
Masterclass has the following benefits: 
  • It's affordable 
  • It's well-produced 
  • It features VIP instructors—Gordon Ramsey teaches cooking, Margaret Atwood teaches writing, etcetera 
  • There is a generous refund policy 
Despite its celebrity instructors, Masterclass does have quite a few cons: 
  • These courses are self-paced—No deadline leads to no motivation for most! 
  • There is no community element—Some people enjoy learning with others while some don't. The problem is that students don't even have the option! 
  • There is no tool to evaluate your skills—While Masterclass does offer workbooks, there is not really a concrete way to measure your progress the way you would one-on-one with an instructor, and you can't ask questions the way you would with an instructor. 
We are proud of Maven because it has all of the pros of Masterclass and none of the cons. More on that later. 
In the meantime, we will cover some other alternatives that are good, but not great. 


Coursera offers some amazing courses: Students can take classes and earn certificates from top universities for a fraction of the cost in a fraction of the time. 
They also offer plenty of online classes for free. 
The caveat is that this platform does not offer live instruction and community. Since these elements are lacking, it can be difficult for students who would rather ask questions when they are face to face with their instructor. 


Udemy offers free and paid online courses. Each one features on-demand videos and various other resources depending on the subject matter. 
These classes are quite affordable and convenient if you would like to complete them in a short amount of time. 
They don't break the bank or require three years of study, but the downside is that they don't incorporate an interactive element, so it can be challenging for students to gauge their understanding and expertise on the matter accurately. 
After all, the truth is that most of us learn by doing at the end of the day: If you actually try to change a tire, you'll likely learn ten times more than you would if you simply watched someone else do it and lecture you twenty times! 


Teachable is great because it gives instructors the option to combine text with videos and incorporate quizzes. Although this platform is more interactive than the rest and features some of the top content creators in their industry, these courses are still self-paced, and there is no interaction with the instructors at all, making it extremely difficult for a lot of students to maintain motivation. 


Skillshare offers a myriad of skills—The subject matter ranges from graphic design to engineering!—but all of their courses are taught solely through videos. 
There is no option for students to interact with the material or test their knowledge: If you're looking to determine your expertise in a subject in a very tangible way, this can be extremely problematic: People may think they're a photography pro when, in reality, they're nothing but an amateur! 
How is one supposed to test their skills in the real world if no feedback is provided?! 


Here at Maven, we value education and convenience: We want our students to experience the best of both worlds, so we've created some incredible online courses that follow a cohort-based model. 
Now, you can enjoy the benefits of online learning while having the option to interact with your instructors and gauge your progress accordingly. 
These courses are not self-paced: We have found that most students find the pressure of having to complete their assignments by a certain date motivational. 
Cohort-based courses have a fixed start and end date, enforcing the real-time aspect and creating a scarcity within the abundance of content out there, and are often taught live. It's the equivalent of participating in a college discussion seminar — taught by an expert in the field, unconstrained by geography or school rank — as opposed to watching a static video. And, importantly, there's a built-in social contract in the form of the cohort. —Wes Kao
If you are looking for a platform that offers engaging courses—courses that are usually taught live—by instructors who will engage and challenge you until you meet your personal and professional goals, Maven is the #1 alternative to Masterclass. 
Here's why: 
  • Our prices are reasonable but indicative of high-quality content: We provide the very best at a reasonable price—$500-$5000 per course. We are confident that you will get a solid return on your investment! 
  • We attract the best instructors from a myriad of fields—Some are practicing experts while others hold PhDs in their area of expertise. 
  • We offer project-based learning so that you can actually determine how well you are doing as you are taking the course 
  • We allow the instructors to have total creative freedom, unlike colleges and universities do thanks to their enormous administrative costs. We've found that this approach leads to higher-quality courses! 
  • We offer you a community where you can meet like-minded people! 
We are all about education that provides real value to students and offers instructors creative freedom! 


So, what exactly are cohort-based courses? You may be asking yourself. 
"Cohort-based courses (CBCs) are interactive courses taken by a group of students who advance through the course together, often with community and active learning at the core." —Wes Kao
$500-$5000 gives students and prospective students the impression that they really should put their best foot forward if they are going to dish out that much of their hard-earned cash on a course! 
At the end of the day, you learn best by doing, right?
"Instead of watching a course about sales strategy, students have to actually make the sale and report back to their peers. Instead of watching videos about color theory in graphic design, students design a flyer and critique each other's work. Instead of watching videos about how bonsai trees grow, students actually grow their own bonsai." —Wes Kao
You'll learn more about growing a bonsai tree when you actually go this process yourself, plain and simple. 
Deadlines provide students with a certain amount of pressure, and that can actually inspire them to finish their assignments on time and be far more productive during the course! 
This means students can usually ask any questions on their minds and instructors are available to provide everyone with the necessary feedback. 

The research states that this is, indeed the case: 
This approach has been shown to be effective: a 2019 Harvard study, for example, found that students in an introductory physics class scored higher on tests following active learning sessions. Students have to put in more effort through this format; they'll stumble and make mistakes. While this is inarguably harder than listening to a charismatic "sage on stage" lecturer — where some students in the same study even perceived themselves to be retaining more knowledge when taught by "superstar lecturers" than they actually were — the research showed students actually learned more from the hands-on experience. —Wes Kao
In short, here's why self-paced, asynchronous courses don't tend to be effective: 
  • The low price affects consumers' perception of quality: If you pay $30,000 for a degree, you will certainly be dedicated. If you pay $20 for a self-paced online course, on the other hand, not so much! 
  • People struggle with motivation: There is not the same amount of pressure to complete assignments by a certain date, so it's all too easy to binge-watch Netflix and forget about whatever course you're taking! On top of this, asynchronous courses make it difficult to measure your progress and evaluate how well you are doing, especially if you can't receive any direct feedback from your instructor. 
  • These courses are extremely one-sided: Students don't have the opportunity to ask questions or test their skills and have them evaluated by their instructor so that they know whether they're on the right track. 
All in all, we have found that cohort-based courses tend to be far more effective than massive open online courses, or MOOCs.
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