Feb 21st, 2024

Difference between PSM and CSM


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Most professionals get confused when choosing between these certifications. In fact, we often get questions from students asking which certification is right for them. 

“PSM and CSM are only for managerial roles and not for team members?” 

“If I do PSM, do I need to do CSM Certification?” 

The reality is that whether you need to pursue both the Professional Scrum Master (PSM™) and Certified Scrum Master (CSM®) certifications depends on your specific goals, preferences, and the requirements of your professional environment.

In this blog post, we’ve curated a list of differences between both certificates. Go through it to assess your specific needs and make informed decisions based on your career goals.

What is Scrum 

Scrum is one of the most popular agile frameworks (78% of Scrum practitioners would recommend the framework). The framework is mostly used for managing software development projects, but it is gradually getting adopted by marketing, HR, research, construction, and various non-software projects. 

The Scrum framework is known for giving a structured yet flexible approach to product development and project management. The goal of scrum is to provide a framework for iterative development while being flexible and adaptive and promoting transparency & accountability. Overall, scrum enables continuous customer feedback, early risk mitigation, and high-quality product delivery.

Origin of Scrum 

Ever since the 1900s, Scrum has been a structure that is used for controlling/managing work on compound products. The Scrum Guide registers Scrum as evolved, developed, and sustained for more than twenty years by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. 

What is Professional Scrum Master (PSM™) Training 

The Professional Scrum Master course is your passport to becoming a facilitator of agility on your team. This training goes beyond just theory— it’s an activity based course that lets you learn about the Scrum framework in a more detailed manner. 

PSM™ training gives you a core knowledge of the Scrum framework and principles. In this course, you’ll also understand the accountabilities of the Scrum Master. Which will help you lead a team, apply scrum principles within the organization, and work with self-managing teams. 

The Professional Scrum Master course connects you to the core philosophies of agility - empowered teams, rapid feedback cycles, and delivering value to customers. Take your skills back to your workplace to facilitate change, coach colleagues, and unlock your team's full potential. 

What is Certified Scrum Master® (CSM®) Training 

The Certified Scrum Master or CSM® training is another recognized Scrum certification for professionals who are working as Scrum practitioners. 

The Certified ScrumMaster certification prepares you to be an inspiring scrum leader who not only understands the framework but also how to adapt it within complex environments. Gain hands-on practice with scrum ceremonies like sprint planning, daily standups, reviews, and retrospectives.

This certification allows professionals to have an in-depth interpretation of scrum values accountability that highlights teamwork, responsibilities & accountabilities, and iterative advancements towards a clearly defined goal. 

Certification level in CSM

For Scrum Masters looking to advance their expertise, Scrum Alliance offers advanced certifications beyond the entry-level Certified Scrum Master (CSM®).

After at least one year of Scrum Master experience, CSMs can pursue the Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM®) designation. This validates their applied skills in facilitation, coaching, and team-building.

With a minimum of two years of experience, A-CSMs can level up to become Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Masters (CSP-SM). This top-tier certification establishes them as an authority in Scrum methods and mindsets.

Earning these advanced designations signifies mastery of Scrum at scale. Candidates must pass rigorous assessments demonstrating extensive, nuanced knowledge. Exams test comprehension of real-world scenarios and the ability to guide teams through complex challenges.

Pursuing A-CSM® and CSP-SM certifications enables experienced Scrum Masters to differentiate themselves. It also fosters ongoing learning and engagement with the Scrum community.

Certification level in PSM

For those starting with the Professional Scrum Master I (PSM™ I) certification, Scrum.org offers advanced certifications to demonstrate growing Scrum expertise.

After PSM™ I, the next step is the Professional Scrum Master II (PSM™ II) for intermediate-level Scrum Masters. This validates capabilities in facilitating, coaching, and innovating with Scrum.

The highest tier is the Professional Scrum Master III (PSM™ III) for expert-level Scrum leaders. This certification establishes extensive knowledge for guiding teams through complex situations.

Beyond the PSM™ track, Scrum.org offers additional role-based certifications:

  • Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO)

  • Professional Scrum Developer (PSD)

For those seeking to lead agile organizations, the credentials include:

  • Professional Agile Leadership (PAL)

  • Professional Agile Leadership – Essentials (PAL-E)

Pursuing these advanced PSM™ and enterprise agile certifications enables Scrum professionals to distinguish themselves. They also support lifelong learning and engagement with the global Scrum community.

Empower your Scrum team to drive success.

Empower your leadership journey as a Scrum Master by developing key competencies to guide and support both Scrum teams and organizational leadership.

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The Difference between  PSM vs. CSM

Here is a quick comparison between the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) and Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certifications:

The Certification Bodies 

The Certified Scrum Master (CSM®) training is issued by Scrum Alliance whereas the Professional Scrum Master (PSM™) training certification is issued by Scrum.org. Both Scrum.org and Scrum Alliance are highly recognized organizations. 

With the PSM™ certification under Scrum.org, you’ll gain a thorough understanding of Scrum. Scrum.org's certificates are lifelong; you don’t have to pay for additional renewal. 

On the contrary, the CSM® certificate offered by Scrum Alliance needs renewal to maintain your credibility.  

Passing Score 

One of the significant parameters to consider between CSM® and PSM™ certifications is the passing marks. 

To have a CSM® certification, you need a minimum of 74% passing marks. The CSM® exam test has 50 multiple-choice questions based on your course’s learning objectives. You’ll get one hour to complete all the questions. 

However, you are expected to give 24 correct answers to 35 questions in PSM™ certification, making it a passing score of at least 85%.

Pre Requisites 

A PSM™ certification doesn't need you to have any requirements prior. If you are new to Scrum or aspiring to start your career in Scrum, you’ll find this foundational-level course useful. 

Similarly, there are no fixed eligibility criteria or prerequisites for attending CSM® certification training. However, having a basic understanding of the Agile frameworks will always give you an upper hand during the training. 

Who Should Attend

The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) training is most beneficial for Individuals interested in becoming a Scrum Master for their team or organization. Scrum Masters looking to expand their knowledge, team members, managers, and others involved in agile development should attend the training. Professionals needing a foundational certification before pursuing more advanced certifications can also join. 

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) training is beneficial for Scrum Masters seeking to deepen their knowledge and expertise. Leaders, team members, coaches of agile organizations. 

Also, anyone who wants to learn about Scrum theory and practices can join both the training to begin their agile journey.  

Duration of Training 

Both the Certified Scrum Master (CSM®) and Professional Scrum Master training are 2 days (runs for 14 to 16 hours). 

The PSM™ training is led by a Professional Scrum Trainer™ (PST), while the CSM® classes are led by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®). 

Exam Pattern 

If you want to become a certified Scrum Master, attend a live or in-person training. Once you complete the training, you have to take the CSM exam. CSM has just multiple choice questions for you to answer. 

Once you pass the test, you’ll be asked to accept the CSM® License Agreement and complete your membership profile on the Scrum Alliance's official site. The duration for the membership will be 2 years. 

On the other hand, PSM™ certifications comprise different types of questionnaires for different levels of certifications. For example, PSM I and PSM II have multiple choice questions and true or false questions; however, PSM III has essay questions along with the above-mentioned type of questions.

If you already have prior in-depth knowledge of Scrum principles and techniques, you can skip the course and apply to take the exam directly. However, we’d recommend you take the course to brush up your knowledge and increase your chances of passing the exam in one try. 

Exam Level 

Simply put, CSM® certification is relatively easier than PSM™ certification, which has a medium to hard difficulty level.

Renewal Rules

The need for renewal is another crucial difference between CSM® and PSM™ training. While the CSM® license has to be renewed every two years, the PSM™ certification holds lifetime validity and doesn’t require any renewal.

Learning Outcomes 

Certified Scrum Masters develop leadership capabilities that empower Scrum teams to perform at their highest potential. CSMs act as servant leaders who lead by example, fostering an environment where team members can thrive. They provide guidance during challenges by leveraging their expertise in the Scrum framework.

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM™) certification validates one's core comprehension of Scrum principles and fluency with Scrum terminology. PSM™ II builds upon this foundation by testing the ability to apply Scrum in complex, nuanced scenarios. It is proficient in navigating difficulties while staying true to Scrum values and practices.

PSM vs.CSM: Which Certification is More Valuable for Me? 

The choice between CSM and PSM certification depends on your learning needs and career goals.

The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification is more widely recognized and focuses on the practical application of Scrum frameworks and processes. It provides a strong foundation for practitioners looking to work with teams quickly.

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) offers more comprehensive knowledge on the reasons behind Scrum theory and practices. It builds deeper insight into the "why" behind the Scrum framework. This understanding is valuable for long-term learning and growth.

Consider whether you need to get up to speed quickly in Scrum practices (CSM), or prefer to build expertise in Scrum principles and mindsets (PSM). Analyze your specific role and learning objectives when deciding which certification delivers the most value for you.

Wrapping Up 

If you’re in the IT field, you might know the challenges you have to face in your professional lives. Inefficient project management, lack of effective collaboration, and poor customer satisfaction.

And let’s not forget about the constant need to upgrade your skills and go beyond the conventional methods. To get career opportunities, you must focus on continuous improvement and becoming more adaptable within the industry. 

The Professional Scrum Master and Certified Scrum Master certifications can help with all the challenges. From honing project management to fostering collaboration, PSM and CSM will help you navigate the complexities of IT projects successfully.

CSM vs PSM: Check Main Differences

(1) Organization that issues certification
Scrum Alliance
(2) Created on
(3) Passing Percentage
A minimum of 74%
A minimum of 85%
(4) Exam Pattern
Multiple Choice Questions
Multiple Choice Questions, Multiple Answer Questions & True/False Questions
(5) Pre Requisites
Attend a CSM training
(6) Exam Duration
A total of 60 minutes (1 hour) to complete 50 multiple-choice questions
A total of 60 minutes (1 hour) to complete 80 multiple-choice questions
(7) Certification Validation
Renewal of license has to be made for every two years
(8) Difficulty level of the Exam
Two days of training and Exam (Easy)
Tougher than the CSM exam. Time investment is required more.
The national average salary for someone who holds a Scrum Master Certification is $97,319/year in the United States (2019) according to Glassdoor.


There is no single "best" Scrum Master certification, as both the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Professional Scrum Master (PSM) have their merits.

  • CSM is more established and widely recognized.

  • PSM is viewed as more challenging with a higher passing score.

  • CSM requires renewing every 2 years.  

  • PSM is a lifetime certification.

The CSM and PSM have different levels of value to offer. CSM is broader on the tactical "how" of Scrum implementation, while PSM provides more conceptual depth on "why" Scrum works the way it does.

No, CSM and PSM are not the same certifications. While both are well-recognized credentials for Scrum Masters, CSM and PSM have distinct differences in their exam content, format, pricing, and ongoing certification requirements. They are not interchangeable.

Having both CSM and PSM can make you stand out more than having just one. Employers wanting proof of practical knowledge tend to prefer CSM. Employers seeking deeper Scrum expertise may value PSM more. 


The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) exam is easier compared to the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) exam. The passing score for CSM is 74% which is lower than the 85% passing score required for PSM.


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