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CSM vs PSM: Main Differences Between CSM & PSM Certification

21st May, 2024
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    CSM vs PSM: Main Differences Between CSM & PSM Certification

    In today's era of digital transformation and rapidly evolving technological trends, it is imperative for IT professionals to keep up with the latest know-how about the subject matter, tools, and skills. Other than pursuing career-oriented courses and certifications, there is no better way for professionals to achieve this objective. Certifications are like stepping stones for professionals guiding their career journey and learning paths to progress ahead and stay in vogue with job demands as well as sharpening their skill-set.

    In today's article we will talk about two popular agile certifications - Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Professional Scrum Master (PSM) to understand, how these two fare against each other i.e. PSM vs CSM, granularities about each of them, tips to choose the right certification and a lot more. Let us have a deep dive.

    What is CSM?

    Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) offered by the Scrum Alliance® is the oldest and widely recognized industry credential that attests understanding of the scrum framework, its principles and practices, and the application of abilities to lead agile teams at a superlative level. Candidates learn the foundations of the scrum, the ceremonial cadence, roles, events, and artifacts along with abilities to handle impediments or challenges and work effectively as a servant-leader. CSM offers flexibility to attendees in understanding the conceptual substructure with ease; attendees need to enroll in the training and appear for the exam to get certified. The overall curriculum of the exam includes building candidate specialization in four core areas of agile project management: 

    • Facilitation and Leadership abilities,  
    • Communication patterns,  
    • Coaching skills, and  
    • Problem-solving abilities 

    To build a holistic understanding of agile development, scrum practices and how a scrum master can drive teams with effective ways of working, explore the Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) course from KnowledgeHut and build your path to a rewarding career. 

    Benefits of CSM certification?

    Apart from being the constitutional and prominent certification for gaining structural clarity of scrum concepts, a CSM certification is a harbringer of a lot of benefits, viz: 

    • Opens avenues to a cosmos of global opportunities with higher chances of getting shortlisted over other candidates 
    • Provides opportunities to engage and network with highly recognized Agile practitioners and scrum evangelists 
    • Career advancement as it acts as a foundational step for those looking into agile/people roles 
    • Salary increments, incentives, and respect among peers, community, and organization. 
    • Launchpad for advanced level certifications offered by Scrum Alliance

    What is PSM?

    Professional Scrum Master (PSM™) is a three-tiered specialization credential that aims to build expertise and skill-set for candidates looking to effectively drive and mentor scrum teams. Candidates enrolled with the PSM certification are equipped with the knowledge and skills to handle scrum decorum and transformations, and mentor teams and individuals to adopt, accept, and embark on their journey on the agile bandwagon. Not only does this certification aim to build a foundational and structural understanding of the scrum concepts, but also looks at avenues to provide hands-on training to candidates on the real-life project crunch and chaos to handle such situations effectively. For the Foundational Level-I of the professional scrum master certification, there is no pre-requisite course/training; if you have learned the scrum concepts, you can go-ahead and appear for PSM-I, though attending the course effectively sets the tone and boosts candidate confidence to clear it in the first attempt.  

    Benefits of PSM certfication?

    • PSM being a three-tiered certification i.e. foundation, intermediate, and advanced levels offers several benefits such as: 
    • Proves scrum expertise considering its assessment criteria as well as tiered curriculum and methodology 
    • Provides a connection to individuals with experts and co-learners as part of the scrum.org community. 
    • Opens up windows for more career opportunities considering its credibility as an advanced certification 
    • Acts as a platform for individuals to build and get certified toward a more robust and progressive skill set. 

    Unlock the myths and facts around scrum practices, transformations and a lot more by getting an understanding about the Professional Scrum Master (PSM™) course/training from KnowledgeHut. 


    Scrum Framework

    A recent article published by Forbes Magazine says that IT professionals with certifications are earning an average of $17,000 more per year than the median IT certification salary. From an employee perspective, certifications let you demonstrate additional qualifications on your resume in addition to getting hired faster.

    The Scrum Master tutorial will give you a better understanding of the roles, responsibilities, and skills involved.

    The demand for certified Scrum professionals is on the rise, and the Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) and Professional Scrum Master (PSMTM) are the two industry-recognized certifications that can add value to your Scrum career.

    Know more about CSM vs PSM.

    Main Differences Between CSM & PSM Certification

    Let’s understand what the differences between the two are, so that you can make an informed choice between the two.

    Accrediting Bodies 

    The Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) is a credential from Scrum Alliance®; a non-profit organization that provides guidance on agile practices, principles, and values. The Professional Scrum Master (PSM™) is offered by Scrum.org, an organization that was founded by Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum; and seeks to improve professionalism in Scrum training across the world.

    Duration of Training 

    Both CSM and PSM training courses have a duration of 2 days (14 to 16 hours) each. The CSM course is led by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®), while the PSM course is led by a Professional Scrum TrainerTM (PST).

    Levels of Training

    The CSM credential has one level only, while the PSM is offered at two levels; PSM I and PSM II.

    Learning Outcomes

    As a CSM, you will be well equipped to help the Scrum team perform at their maximum capability, overcoming obstacles and guiding them on the Scrum framework. A CSM is considered a ‘servant leader’ who leads through example and essentially facilitates the team members to achieve project success.

    People who have successfully achieved the PSM I demonstrate a foundational level of Scrum mastery and are well-versed in the terminology and approach to Scrum. Passing the PSM II acknowledges a deeper understanding of Scrum principles and the ability to apply Scrum in complex situations.

    Certification Process


    • You will be required to attend a mandatory live online or in-person course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®), or get coached by a Certified Agile Coach (CAC). The duration will be 14 to 16 hours of training. 
    • On course completion, you will need to take the 50 questions CSM test. To achieve the passing score, you must answer 37 out of the 50 questions correctly within the 1 hour time limit. 
    • On passing the CSM test, you will be asked to accept the CSM License Agreement and complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile. You will get the membership for a duration of 2 years. 


    • Taking a course is not mandatory, and if you feel you already have the required level of Scrum knowledge, you can apply to write the PSM I Exam. However, undertaking the course will get you well-prepared to pass the exam on your first attempt.
    • Study well, and check the resources available to help you prepare. 
    • The PSM I Assessment contains 80 questions to be answered within a time limit of 1 hour. If you pass the assessment, you will receive the PSM I certification and a logo.

    What is the passing grade?

    To pass the CSM exam, you must secure at least 37 out of 50 possible marks. This is considered to be easier to achieve than a passing grade in the PSM exam. 

    In PSM I, the passing criteria are quite tough, as you will have to complete 80 questions and achieve at least 85% (this is not accurately defined by Scrum.org) to get the Professional Scrum Master certificate.

    Exam Format

    While CSM contains multiple-choice questions, the PSM certifications are a mix of multiple-choice questions, multiple-answer questions, and some true/false questions. The PSM I will test you on the facts of Scrum as well as some scenario-based questions.

    PSM vs CSM: Head-to-head Comparison

    Accreditated ByThe Scrum AllianceScrum.org
    PrerequisitesAttending a CSM®️ course taught by a Scrum Alliance's Certified Scrum Trainer (CST)®️None
    TrainingMandatory training by Certified Scrum Trainers before the test.Training is not mandatory. But certification training by Professional Scrum Trainers is helpful in acing the test.
    Exam Pattern and Question Formats

    Questions - 50 MCQs

    Time - 1 hour

    Questions - 80 MCQs and true/false questions.

    Time - 1 hour.

    Passing Score37 out of 5068 out of 80

    Renews every two years.

    Renewal Fee - $100 SEUs (Scrum Educational Units) - 20 

    Valid for a lifetime;

    Renewal not required

    What is Next?

    Certified Scrum Master (CSM) Advanced

    CSM Certified Scrum Professional

    Scrum Master Certified Team Coach or Certified Enterprise Coach or Certified Scrum Trainer

    Professional Scrum Master I  

    Professional Scrum Master II

    Professional Scrum Master III

    Professional Scrum Master Trainer (Train-the-trainer certification)

    Top Cities where Knowledgehut Conduct CSM Certification Training Course Online

    CSM Certification in BangaloreCSM Certification in SydneyCSM Certification in Chennai
    CSM Certification in New YorkCSM Certification in LondonCSM Certification in Chicago
    CSM Certification in SingaporeCSM Certification in Pune CSM Certification in Washington
    CSM Certification in TorontoCSM Certification in DubaiCSM Certification in Los Angeles
    CSM Certification in HyderabadCSM Certification in MelbourneCSM Certification in Atlanta

    Take a deep dive into the trending  Agile Category Courses  

    CSM CertificationCSPO CertificationLeading SAFe Certification
    PSM CertificationSAFe Scrum Master CertificationSAFe SPC Certification
    SAFe RTE CertificationSAFe POPM CertificationICP-ACC Certification

    Difficulty Level of the Exams

    It is generally understood that the Certified ScrumMaster test is relatively easier than the PSM 1 and PSM 2. To appear for the CSM, attending a 2 day training is mandatory and you will get adequately prepared to sit the exam and achieve a passing score. However, PSM does not have a mandatory requirement of attending training classes, and many students who have not attended a training workshop therefore find that their preparation is inadequate.

    How much does it cost?

    There is no standard fee for the CSM exam, as typically the exam attempt is clubbed with the course.  However, the fee range for the course is typically from 1000 USD to 1400 USD. 

    The PSM costs $150 USD per exam attempt. If you join a training course, your first exam attempt is free. 

    What is the Renewal Duration?

    • You have to renew your CSM credential every two years, by collecting 20 SEUs and paying the renewal fee of $100. 
    • On the other hand, there is no need to renew your PSM credentials. Once you get the PSM credential, it has lifetime validity. 

    How consistent is the training content? 

    The CSM program content varies from trainer to trainer, as Scrum Alliance only provides broad guidelines for the Curriculum, and trainers are free to interpret it in their own ways. PSM comes with a standard agenda that must be followed across all training institutes. 

    Achieve new heights in project management with our PMP certification. Enroll today and take the next step in advancing your career!

    Which Certification is better? + Tips to Choose One

    Having seen the above list of differences and technicalities of each certification, I am sure the next question popping into your mind is, csm or psm, which is better? Now, the answer to this can get very subjective as it entirely depends on the individual choice, whether they want to pursue a training course and take up CSM to start with the basic foundations or they want to get the required scrum knowledge and appear for the relatively advanced PSM. To make this election easier between psm or csm which is better, here are a few key and quick tips one must keep in mind: 

    • PSM follows the “Scrum Open” online test as a part of which it is not mandated to appear for any physical course/exam and the exam can be directly given anytime right from the comfort of your home. 
    • PSM follows a model of knowledge and certification and does not mandate any renewal 
    • CSM has fairly simple evaluation criteria and is more well-known across the industry for job opportunities or career progression.  

    To make a rightful choice or decide whether psm or csm which is better, you as a candidate need to make a careful effort to visualize your future career path; remember, the CSM certification opens the doors to elevated certifications and career paths, such as CSPO - Certified Scrum Product Owner, or Advanced CSPO, or CSD - Certified Scrum Developer. PSM on the other hand, will lead you towards the Professional Scrum Trainer roles and involves extensive learning and application of theoretical strategies and solutions to solve real-time problems. To add a word of caution, candidates should avoid looking only at certification costs, csm vs psm salary and instead make their decisions based on a collective and objective consideration of the above listed factors. 


    Knowledge of Scrum is one of the most sought-after skills in recent times, and both the CSM and PSM are highly respected credentials in the Scrum world. While the CSM is preferred by many as it is considered an easier exam to pass, it requires renewal of the credential every two years. The PSM, though it comes with a slightly more difficult assessment, is valid for a lifetime.

    We hope we’ve helped you to make an informed choice! If you still can’t make up your mind, connect with any of our counselors by filling out our contact form and getting the answers you seek. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Good luck on your Agile journey!

    You may also like:

    CSM or PSM - Which Certificate Is Better To Choose?
    What is the Difference Between PSM1 and PSM2?
    Everything you need to know about PSM certification
    CSM, PSM, SSM, SASM - What Scrum Master Course Do I Choose?
    Top PSM Books: Preparation Tips, PSM Certification
    How to Prepare for and Pass the Professional Scrum Master Exam
    Cracking the Scrum Code: PSM vs. PSPO Explained
    How Does A PSM™ Certification Help Your Management Career?
    The History of Professional Scrum Master (PSM)
    5 Things To Consider While Choosing A Professional Scrum Master Certification

    CSM vs PSM: Frequently Asked Questions

    Q. Is CSM better than PSM?

    No, CSM and PSM are both certifications provided by globally recognized accreditation bodies. Both the certifications have their unique advantages. CSM is offered by Scrum Alliance while PSM is offered by Scrum.org. There are other organizations as well that offer similar certifications in Scrum. The major difference between the two certifications is that CSM certification is valid for two years, after which it will need to get renewed, while the PSM certification comes with a lifetime validity.

    Q. Are CSM and PSM the same?

    No, CSM and PSM are both certifications targeting Scrum masters, however these certifications are offered by different certification bodies. CSM certification requires the candidate to undergo training and pass a qualifying exam, whereas training is optional for PSM certification.

    Q. Is CSM certification worth it?

    Yes, CSM is one of the most popular Scrum certifications around the world. It provides a solid understanding of how to perform the Scrum role in a team. It is recognized globally, and it adds value to your profile if you work or intend to work in Scrum teams.

    Q. Is it worth getting a PSM?

    Yes, PSM is an in-demand certification that will help you in understanding Scrum concepts and the role of a Scrum master. The certification also comes with a lifetime validity.


    Richard Paul

    Blog Author

    Richard Paul is seasoned professional of the project management domain. He during his tenure has to his credit many successful projects. In his leisure time, he writes and educates his audience on the latest in project management. He can be contacted for coursework assistance by following him on social media channels.

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