Difference Between PSM and CSM certification

PSM vs. CSM: Scrum Master Certifications

PSM vs. CSM: Scrum Master CertificationsPSM vs. CSM: Scrum Master Certifications

The PSM (Professional Scrum Master) and CSM (Certified Scrum Master) are two prominent certifications in the realm of Scrum and Agile project management.

Both credentials are highly sought after and are indicative of a deep understanding of Scrum principles and practices. However, when it comes to "PSM vs CSM", there are several key differences that set them apart, making each one unique in its own right.


The CSM certification is offered by the Scrum Alliance, while the PSM certification is provided by Scrum.org. Each of these organizations has its own set of training materials, assessment criteria, and certification process.

The exam format also differs between the two. The CSM certification exam typically consists of multiple-choice questions, while the PSM certifications offer a mix of multiple-choice, multiple-answer, and true/false questions, often considered more challenging.

The validity of the certifications is another distinguishing factor. The CSM certification needs to be renewed every two years, requiring a renewal fee and the earning of continuing education credits. In contrast, the PSM certification does not have an expiration date, remaining valid indefinitely.

This article compares the PSM and CSM certifications for being a Scrum Master to help you choose the best one for your needs, and it also has my personal recommendations.

Overview of PSM and CSM

PSM certification is offered by Scrum.org, while CSM certification is provided by the Scrum Alliance. Both certifications validate your knowledge of Scrum principles and your ability to lead a Scrum team.

However, there are some differences in how these certifications are obtained and maintained.

Professional Scrum Master (PSM)

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification, available from Scrum.org, emphasizes a thorough understanding of Scrum's principles, practices, and Scrum Master role.

Ken Schwaber (opens in a new tab), one of the co-creators of Scrum, founded the organization known as Scrum.org.

There are three levels of PSM certification:

  1. PSM I: Validates your fundamental knowledge of Scrum and its application.
  2. PSM II: Demonstrates your ability to apply Scrum to complex, real-world situations.
  3. PSM III: Showcases your Scrum expertise and ability to lead effectively and coach Scrum teams.

To earn PSM certification, pass the respective online exam for each level, with no prerequisite training courses required.

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

The Scrum Alliance, a non-profit group that promotes the use of Scrum, gives the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification.CSM validates your understanding of Scrum principles and ability to facilitate, coach, and lead a Scrum team.

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you earn your CSM certification:

  1. Complete a CSM course: Locate an accredited training provider and sign up for a 16-hour course covering Scrum fundamentals, roles, events, and artifacts.
  2. Complete the CSM exam: You have 90 days after completing the course to take the 50-question multiple-choice examination. You must earn a minimum grade of 74% to succeed.
  3. Accept the CSM license agreement: After passing the exam, accept the license agreement and complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile.
  4. Maintain your certification: To keep your CSM certification active, you must earn 20 Scrum Education Units (SEUs) every two years and pay a renewal fee.

By taking these steps, you'll be well on your way to getting your Certified ScrumMaster certification and advancing your career in the Agile community. If you wish to learn more about the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification, check this article out.

Key Differences between PSM and CSM

Exam Format

PSM: PSM I is the entry-level certification. The exam has 80 multiple-choice questions, and you need to score at least 85% to pass. The test is online and can be taken from anywhere.

CSM: To obtain the CSM certification, you must participate in a two-day live online or in-person course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). After completing the course, you'll take an online exam with 50 multiple-choice questions, and you must score at least 74% to pass.

Certification Cost

PSM: ThePSM I exam costs $150 per attempt. Course attendance is not required, but Scrum.org offers optional training classes that can help you prepare.

CSM: The cost of the CSM certification includes the mandatory training course and the exam fee. Prices vary depending on the training provider and location, but they typically range from $1,000 to $1,400.

Renewal and Continuing Education

PSM: PSM certifications do not expire, so there are no renewal fees. However, you can pursue higher levels of PSM certification to demonstrate your expertise.

CSM: CSM certifications must be renewed every two years, which costs $100. You also need to get 20 Scrum Education Units (SEUs) every time you renew. You can do this by going to events, webinars, or courses.

Your decision to take up either of the paths of Scrum certification will immensely depend on the below three categories:

  1. Career Goals: If you want to demonstrate in-depth Scrum knowledge and expertise, higher levels of PSM certification might be beneficial. The CSM certification may be sufficient for a solid Scrum principles and practices foundation.
  2. Budget and Time: PSM certification typically costs less, as it doesn't require a training course. However, the CSM training and certification costs might be worth it if you prefer learning Scrum concepts through a class.
  3. Reputation and Recognition: PSM and CSM are widely recognized in the Agile community. Depending on your potential employer, you may have to consider which certificate is more valued by your current or future employers and colleagues.
FeatureProfessional Scrum Master (PSM)Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
Issuing Organization Scrum.org Scrum Alliance
Certification LevelsPSM I, PSM II, PSM IIICSM
Exam RequirementPass the online exam for each levelPass the online exam after completing a training course
Training RequirementNo prerequisite training courses are required2-day training course is required
FocusDeep understanding of Scrum principles and practicesFacilitation, coaching, and leading Scrum teams
CostTypically lower, no training course costsHigher, includes training course costs
RecognitionWidely recognized in the Agile communityWidely recognized in the Agile community
Career AdvancementIn-depth Scrum knowledge and expertiseSolid foundation in Scrum principles and practices
Ideal forDemonstrating Scrum expertise and coaching abilitiesGaining a strong foundation in Scrum principles

Table: Key Differences between the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) and Certified Scrum Master (CSM)

Personal Experiences and Recommendations

As someone who has earned both certifications, I found the PSM exam to be more challenging and focused on real-world scenarios. The CSM course provided valuable hands-on experience and networking opportunities. In my opinion, if you're new to Scrum, consider starting with CSM for the training experience. If you're already familiar with Scrum and want to test your knowledge, PSM may be a more cost-effective choice.


In conclusion, both PSM and CSM have their unique benefits. Consider your background, goals, and budget when choosing the right certification for you. Ultimately, either certification will enhance your credibility as a Scrum Master and boost your career in the Agile world.

**The choice between PSM (Professional Scrum Master) and CSM (Certified Scrum Master) certifications is shaped by an individual's specific needs, aspirations, and circumstances. **


Both certifications validate one's expertise in Scrum practices and Agile principles, but their differences lie in content, assessment, recognition, and the renewal process.

CSM might be the ideal choice for those seeking wide recognition within the Agile community and a straightforward certification process.

On the other hand, those aiming for a rigorous assessment that highlights their in-depth understanding of Scrum may find PSM more suitable.

Moreover, the absence of renewal requirements for PSM offers lifetime validity, which might be another factor to consider.

In the ongoing "PSM vs CSM" debate, it is essential to understand that both certifications hold value and can significantly boost one's career trajectory in Agile project management. The decision should ultimately align with your professional goals, learning style, and future plans in the Agile domain.

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