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PSM versus CSM

Last post 03:51 pm January 28, 2021 by Jeff Batdorf
32 replies
01:09 am October 17, 2013

Evening all, I am brand spanking new to but after doing some poking around and what not believe this is where I want/need to be. I apologize if this question has been asked but I can't seem to find it so am throwing it out there.

Can anyone give me some insight as to the difference between CMS vs PSM. How they are perceived, are they equal? One better? Pros/Cons?

I am finding it more important to have some kind of "backing" to support that I know what I know and was pleased to find I could take the test without having to sit through the two day CSM training (plus I don't have that kind of cash laying around at the moment).

Is the PSM well received? Recognized? It seems to be more real world - in practice and less proof of training, but that could just be wishful thinking on my part.

Any information would be greatly appreciated and helpful.


06:52 am October 17, 2013

Many of us have certified under both schemes. I'm not going to get into the politics as to which is better, since much depends upon individual needs at a given moment in their career, but I'll assert that PSM is certainly *no less* respected than CSM.

Also, it is possible to sit PSM Level 1 a number of times for the price of a course.

04:32 am October 25, 2013

Having done both I can safely say that there really is no difference between the two. After all Scrum is the same whatever be the organization certifying you.

In general certifications still aren't foolproof enough to weed out success via rote memorization and both the CSM and PSM1 certifications are no exception

At the end of the day a certification places you at the starting blocks. How you run the race after that is entirely upto you.

08:06 am January 15, 2014

I wouldn't say they are the same. They are different and PSM is better. Not because I said it but because many people who has got both certificates have said so. I have summarised it here:…

08:17 am January 15, 2014

Prabhu, unfortunately Scrum is not the same everywhere. I would love to see 100% the World referring to Scrum Guide. But that's not the case now (soon will be :)) If you look at the Scrum Core (Scrum Alliance) and Scrum Guide ( - they're quite different. We consider Scrum Guide is the primary source of knowledge as it was created and sustained by creators of Scrum: Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. Regarding the certifications - CSM is just a weak shadow of PSMI. CSM can be compared with PSF (Professiona Scrum Foundations). PSM course is more advanced level. Also it's very hard not to pass CSM 'exam' and it's really hard to pass PSMI.

04:22 pm January 24, 2014

I will add that PSM II is much more difficult and interesting than CSP.

PSM II also give me a lot of very valuable feedback and helped me to improve my understanding of Scrum.

CSP (as a proctored exam) is still "just" a multiple-choice test, without any feedback but your score. The phrasing was also very poor, which make the test difficult for no-english native people.

01:50 pm September 15, 2015

Being a CSP, CSM, CSPO, and PSM I I will speak to my personal experience with those alone.

I think that passing a scrum.orgs assessments to be a much better indicator of scrum knowledge then the CSM or CSPO courses (and CSM assessment). At least I can say that I learned a lot studying for the PSM I that i didn't understand fully through my CSM or CSPO courses. The CSP requires 3 years expirience and 70+ education credits that can be earned by attending courses, reading books, attending Scrum user groups, etc. . I found the user group meetings in my area to be probably the most helpful thing for me in building my knowledge, understanding, and practical experience of Scrum. I think you could get a CSP without much Scrum knowledge if you really wanted to, but for me it was a very good learning experience/opportunity.

So from a learning perspective i would rate CSPO < CSM < PSM I < CSP . I will have to see where the PSM II falls if i take it - which i am motivated/challenged to, because i feel like i would learn a lot through the process.

Another thing to consider is if you are looking for a community to be involved with. i would look at the available classes and user groups for each or Scrum Alliance in your area as they can be vastly different. Scrum Alliance's presence is 10x greater in my area so for a community to become involved with it had a lot more courses and opportunities. I think Scrum Alliance certifications are typically better known by US companies as well (vs Europe where has a much bigger presence).

12:40 pm October 3, 2015

Being a CSM, CSPO, CSP, SPC, CLKF, ICP-ATF, PSM I I would definitely rate PSM > CSM.

10:26 pm January 25, 2017

Hello Everyone, I have been reading a lot as which certification is better than another one. After reading all the responses above and other web pages, it makes me clear and confident that I will start my first Scrum certification with PSM1 and thanks for all your above messages. I will enroll for assessment on but for studying and prepare for the examination which other resources shall I use if I would like to avoid a big fee of $1200 or above.

08:59 pm March 20, 2017

I am also interested to know if there any other resources we could use instead of spending $1200 check

04:22 pm March 21, 2017

Deepak and Pravan,

The PSM I follows the definitions in the Scrum Guide pretty closely.  If you prefer self-study over a professional training course, look over the PSM Resource Guide.  In particular, I've heard great things about the Scrum Pocket Guide book.  If you're a visual learner, Udemy has some useful Scrum video courses at about $10 apiece.

However, if you plan to go on to the PSM II or PSM III, I strongly recommend the in-person training.

05:36 pm March 22, 2017

CSM: Course attendence mandatory, 35 questions, 68% pass mark, no time limit

PSMI: No course needed, 80 questions, 85% pass mark, time limit

As one can see, PSMI has a challenging time limit and a hard pass mark, while for CSM you can take as long as you need to answer any of the questions coming and stil fail on almost a third of them. I never went for any ScrumAlliance certificate, but as far as people told me, it's just like that: Attend the course, play the money and you're done with a little effort. And I even know some persons who did exactly that and get lot's of things wrong regarding scrum.

Sure, you'll have to renew that certification, so one might think it's a more valid proof of your knowledge when it comes to new job opportunities. But in the end: If you've got your certificates and you're CV shows that you've been doing scrum during the last few years, nobody will question that you still have that knowledge active and present.

That all said: I never went for a ScrumAlliance certificate, but did so with PSPO, SPS, PSMI and PSMII. For good reason, I guess.

10:06 am March 23, 2017

I am certified under PMI, ScrumAlliance and To keep it short (as the previous posts have already answered the topic thoroughly), my PSM "journey" helped me to really understand what Scrum is really about.

A training from ScrumAlliance and/or is fine, however it does not mean that you 'll become a Scrum ninja just by attending a training; determination for self-improvement, learning and experimentation is needed.

01:34 pm March 23, 2017

Thank you for this conversation!  As a developer, I sought out obtaining a PO certification as a self initiative.  The company I work for has used ScrumAlliance to train in house PO's.   I feel confident in obtaining my PSPO I over a CPO after reading this, and talking with those who have taken the SA courses.  After what I've gathered, I agree with Steven, the PSPO/PSM exams definitely require a more inclusive understanding of SCRUM.

06:38 am April 3, 2017

If you do proper research, you will come to the same conclusion that many did - PSM 1 is LOT better than CSM.

Look at this:… (Five steps to get the most meritorious Scrum certificate)


12:41 am May 26, 2017

Hi Guys ,

I am Team lead/Senior Developer.

If i want to move to a role of Scrum master do you think it make sense to do PSM or CSM as i alreday have PMI-ACP.


01:15 pm June 18, 2017

Hi ridhz,

You mentioned your interested is moving to a role of Scrum Master. For this purpose, I think both PSM and CSM would be helpful in the career transition into Scrum Master Role.

Being a PMP, PMI-ACP, SPC4 and I just recently completed PSM-I, PSPO-I.  My considerations between PSM and CSM is (A) Course availability and (B) Cost, and I am happy with my decision with PSM.

I think PSM-I exam is a good starting point to explore Scrum for the following reasons & considerations

  1. Course and Time availability: 

    - I believe for CSM you will need to attend a course before you can take the exam.

    - There are limited choice of courses offered in my region 

  2. Budget/Cost:

    - Both PSM and PSM in person courses are more than $1,000. But taking the PSM-I exam is only $150.

    - If budget is not a concern, I would go for in-person training courses.

  3. Online feedback:

    - Based on research of online discussions (e.g. in this thread). It seems PSM is recommended over CSM.

Hope this helps, 

03:10 pm June 29, 2017

As a trainer I have taken the CSM courses and the PMI-ACP.  The PMI-ACP test is pretty broad in what it asks about but not highly in-depth with any one topic. is very in-depth with scrum.  Scrum alliance is a fairly easy test that focuses on scrum.  

The classes tend to be transformational (change the way you think).  When I took the CSM it was a little more informational.  Both are good classes but I went down the path because I wanted the community and the strict interpretation of scrum.   I think's certs holds more respect because it's tough.

BTW, the scrum alliance trainers know their stuff, it's just a different approach to training and certification.

07:19 pm July 27, 2017

As others have said, I believe the PSM to be better simply based off the requirements for the test. I will issue a word of caution, if you'll hear it. Simply getting the certification does not mean you'll get interviews or that it will even make it easier at all to get into a Scrum Master role. I have experience doing the work as a Scrum Master and Business Analyst, yet my title was never one of those; I hold the PSM1 since January and I've put in roughly 300 applications since then and have yet to get even a call about a position I've applied for. I was told by many friends in the industry and in that role that once I got the certification, it would be super easy to break in; that was wrong on many levels as I've experienced. I've had my resume critiqued by hiring managers for this role, high level IT recruiters, and peers; still nothing. 

By all means, go for the certification but don't expect that doors will automatically fly open for you; unless you live in an area where Scrum is brand new and the pool of candidates can be counted on 1 hand. Dallas Fort/Worth is a different story. Good luck with your decision.

12:18 pm April 9, 2018

PSM1 is definitely tougher , time limit on the exam and tricky questions test you understanding of scrum

and  makes it  more tougher 

you have just enough time to answer all questions and look at bookmarks

10:49 am April 11, 2018

PSM > CSM. Period.

05:52 pm May 10, 2018

Having both certifications, I do see a difference in the organizations. A couple actually. For one, you must pay for a class and then you take an open book test. You then have to renew every couple of years. For the other, you study, and pay for the exam. Once you pass, you have it for life.

11:12 pm May 12, 2018

Ian, I applaud you for not being biased.

I really hope PSM becomes more recognized over CSM, as in my opinion it's like comparing a Bachelors from Ivy League school to one from a 3rd world institution.

The article on does a good job comparing the two.

All hail PSM :-)



11:08 am September 30, 2018

I've been a CSM for some time, but have recently become PSM I certified.  My key driver is the money grab around CSM.

- Mandatory expensive 2 day course

- bi-annual renewals.

I'll be pursuing the PSM stream from now on.




05:47 pm October 1, 2018

I have the CSM, PSM I.  I will say that I learned more in studying for my PSM than I did the CSM.  But I prefer self-study.  Which one is better?  I really don't think one is better than the other except to the people that are getting them.  From a job seeker point of view I agree with what @Curtis said and really encourage you to listen to him. 

My personal preference is the certs because I think they test you actual knowledge more. I have no proof of that, it is only my personal opinion.

A side note, after you get past the first level of the certs, they do become much more difficult because the questions are based on applying the knowledge you have and not on recalling what is written in the scrum guide. I'm still trying to get the PSM II after a couple of attempts.

05:20 pm February 4, 2019


maybe this video gives a little bit more insight:

09:16 pm August 11, 2019

I think the PSM1 Cert is way harder then CSM.  Pretty much every search on google will tell you that the PSM1 is Intermediate/Advance in Assessment Difficulty Level.  CSM seems like since you pay a lot more you are guaranteed to pass and the minimum passing score is much less and there is no time limit.  The CSM seems like you don't need a depth of knowledge about the material your payment guarantees you get the certificate.  While the PSM1 requires you to learn the material in-depth as some of the questions are real-life scenarios that test your understanding of the material and how to apply it in the real world to get the Certification.


  Check out the following link:

06:21 pm April 23, 2020

I’m converting to Scrum from a 14yr project management career, exclusively waterfall. My opinion on this SSM vs PSM matter is that the value of the class is worth every dime to learn what it means to be an Agilist, to learn the mindset and to hear the real world comparisons and to be able to ask questions from a seasoned professional that is passionate about his craft. To me, the cert is just a piece of paper. So whether it’s a CSM class or PSM class, please don’t think you can just read the book, pass the test, and you are good to go. That is not the Agile mindset.

02:21 pm July 6, 2020

Both the certification bodies have based their certification on the Scrum Guide and the learning objectives are pretty similar. Having done both CSM and PSM, my experience was that CSM tends to focus more on generic product delivery whereas PSM focuses more on the software product delivery. However, the intent of both the certification is to help kick start your journey towards mastering scrum.

Also, the trainers be it CST or PST have gone through rigorous selection criteria and have proved their competence and the requisite training mettle.

PSM or CSM is the first step in your agile journey, so make sure you get a strong foundation from the right source.

Check this blog for more deep understanding about the differences between PSM & CSM


03:20 pm July 20, 2020

if we compare both the exams PSM(Professional Scrum TrainerTM) certification exam is much harder as compared to the CSM(Certified Scrum Trainer) exam. and the Level of Training of the CSM has one level only, while the PSM is offered at two-level. 

07:12 pm September 11, 2020

For Product Owner certification there is no discussion. PSPO is far better. You can get CSPO only by attending a course, whereas PSPO requires you to truly understand the role in Scrum and the framework and to answer correctly to a minimum of 68 questions in 60 minutes...

For Scrum Master, the CSM has an exam too, but you cannot compare in difficulty in any way with PSM. Not to mention that you need to renew the certificate every 2 year, so it is more of a business in my mind...

The idea is to really know not just to put a tick on the course ("I attended, now I am a Product Owner") and to really not to know anything about.



12:50 pm September 14, 2020

Working in the Netherlands for a software company, I can say that just about all our customers are asking for PSM and PSPO certifications, not CSM or CSPO. In the past, this was the other way around.

Lately I've noticed that more customers than before are asking for PSM II now. I guess the large number of PSM I holders has devalued the certificate a bit, but still more desirable than CSM in the current Dutch market.

06:06 am January 28, 2021

Thank you so much for all these responses.  I'm one of those people that have been furloughed due to COVID-19 so I'm spending my time gaining some education and additional credentials.  Being furloughed also means finances are tight so I would much rather spent $150 then being forced to take a class.   

I did take and pass the PMP last December and understanding Scrum was recommended as a next step.  PMI's agile course also requires a certified trainer, which is again, something I can't afford right now.   I appreciate all the positive nods towards the PSM.  It lets me know I'm on the right track.


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