PSM Vs CSM: The Ultimate Expert Comparison


When it comes to Agile Certifications, there are always many doubts and indecision as to which is the best choice. This is because the certification landscape is vast, but is there a better certification than the others? What criteria should be used to choose agile certification?

Here is our article on PSM vs CSM and their comparison. By the end, hopefully, we will be able to decide which one is the best and which one do you need.

The Overview of Scrum Master Certifications

Scrum is an agile methodology for developing complex products. Scrum was originally used for software development projects. But its focus and flexibility make SCRUM processes ideal for projects that require speed of change.

There are several scrum master certifications programs. Among them, PMS and CMS are most widespread and popular.

The choice depends on a number of factors. It includes:

  • The working context
  • Professional needs
  • The type of use you want to make of the certification

To this end, a general overview of the most widespread and recognized agile certifications on the market can be useful.


What is CSM certification?

The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) ® Certification of the Scrum Alliance is specific to the Scrum framework, and it is aimed at those who intend to fill or hold the role of Scrum Master. Among all the certifications, it has been one of the most popular.

In order to obtain CSM® certification, there are no specific prerequisites. Also, no previous experience must be demonstrated. However, it is mandatory to attend one of the courses periodically carried out for a duration of two days.

At the end of the course, there is an exam consisting of 50 questions and lasting 1 hour. The total cost of the course is approximately more than $1,000 (course + final exam).

The CSM® certification is ideal for those who intend to seize new job opportunities and consider moving abroad. It is often a requirement during the selection phase.

What is PSM Certification?

Even the Certified Professional Scrum Master (PSM) ® of Scrum.Org is specific on the Scrum Framework. And it has no prerequisites. To obtain this certification, it is not compulsory to follow training courses. If you already have solid knowledge and experience, you can prepare yourself for complete autonomy.

You can register for the exam at any time; just buy the voucher worth $150 online. The exam consists of 80 multiple choice questions, lasts 1 hour, and can be passed with 85 % correct answers.

The PSM certification has been growing rapidly; it is in fact, comparable to the CSM® certification in terms of value. And it is advantageous in economic terms. Furthermore, compared to the ACP® and CSM® certifications, the PSM certification is perpetual. Once obtained, it is not necessary to face renewal costs.

PSM vs CSM: Ultimate Comparison

By now, you must have understood that there is no way to choose one and declare it the best. They both serve different purposes.

However, there are some basic differences such as:

  • Course Type

CSM has a certain course outlined. Before taking an exam, you must attend the course.

But in the case of PSM, there is no need to do any course. If you are experienced enough, you will be able to sit for an exam.

  • Passing Rate

Both the certification exams have different passing rates.

In the case of CSM, 37 correct answers out of 50 will ensure your victory. But in the PSM examination, you must get 80 correct answers among the 100 questions.

  • Level of Difficulty

The users who have to sit for both the exams believe that CSM is relatively easier than PSM1 and 2.

  • Cost

There is no fixed expense in both of them. But in the case of CSM, you have to attend a course. Thus CSM certification fees may range up to a total of $1000.

On the other hand, you can directly attend the exam of PMS. So, the PSM certification fees will limit to $150 only.

A Comparative Table: Professional Scrum Master vs Certified Scrum Master

Course duration 2 days Not necessary
Level of training 1 PSM1; PSM2; PSM3
Passing grade 74% 80%
Difficulty Easier Difficult
Cost $1000+ $150
Renewal Every 2 years No need

Time to Make a Decision: Which One is Best for You?

There is no better certification than the other; it all depends on your personal goals and budget.

If you need to get a broader and more general knowledge of agile methodologies, I suggest you opt for the PMI-ACP® certification.

On the other hand, suppose you intend to change jobs and move abroad. A reasonable investment is to choose the CSM® certification, which is still in great demand and known on the market.

Finally, if you intend to seize new opportunities, then the choice can be that of CSM® or PSM® certification.

Always remember that these certifications mainly concern the knowledge of project management methods. The ability to use them in a conscious way can only give you experience. So, along with certification, it’s just as important to really use agile methods in everyday projects.

Final Verdict

We understand that each organization and each individual has different situations. If an employer requires you to choose one over the other, that’s understandable.

However, I hope this discussion on PSM vs CSM has provided you with enough information so that you can at least have an open conversation about why the chosen one may be the right fit.


Is CSM better than PSM?

Like we said before, it depends on the need of the individual. If one does not have any prior knowledge, it is better to go for CSM. CSM provides a brief course.

On the contrary, if he is experienced, there is no need to attend any course and just sit for PSM.

Which Scrum Master certification is best?

There is no ‘best’ in the case of a scrum certification. But according to users and popularity, CSM seems to be more widespread among enthusiasts.

Is PSM proctored?

No, PSM is not proctored.

Which is better, CSPO or CSM?

Again, they both serve different purposes and thus have different uses.