Difference between CSM and PSM Certification

Scrum is an agile framework that was developed for IT (Software) related projects but it was so effective that many other industries adopted this technology for completing their complex projects.

It runs on agile technology and therefore, facilitates faster decision-making in different processes. As a result, many organizations especially IT companies are constantly searching for candidates who are can handle SCRUM applications and frameworks effectively.  

For becoming a SCRUM Master you have the option of two certifications viz. CSM (Certified Scrum Master) and PSM (Professional Scrum Master). Both these certifications have widely recognized and train the candidates to be a certified SCRUM master.

Therefore, it is natural for the candidates who are interested in learning SCRUM and Agile concepts to be confused while picking one among them. Therefore, we have decided to compare these two certifications based on different aspects so that you can make a wise decision for yourself.


Both CSM and PSM are related to software development but there are many differences among them. Let us start from the enrollment procedure: 

CSM v/s PSM – Enrollment procedure

CSM Certification is provided by ScrumAlliance. It is easier to enroll in CSM as you can pick any institute that provides this certification.

A two-day training program has to be attended by the candidate and the required assignments are to be submitted. After that, you can give an exam and you will be given a CSM certificate if you manage to clear this exam.

A candidate can attempt to clear the CSM exam any number of times. Moreover, it is not difficult to crack this exam as the candidate needs to score only over 69% marks to clear it. The exam is of MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions) pattern and you need to complete the test in 60 minutes. 

On the other hand, it is tough to obtain a PSM Certification because it is difficult to both enroll and crack the PSM exam. To enroll for this certification, you will have to buy a password that is provided on scrum.org.

After that, you will have to clear three certification levels viz. PSM I, PSM II, and PSM III. If a candidate has enough knowledge about SCRUM and can implement it in real-world situations, then he/she can take the first exam directly.  

Members who do not possess enough knowledge of SCRUM concepts can attend a 2-day training program similar to the CSM exam. However, it is tough to clear the PSM Certification as the candidate needs to score a minimum of 85% marks in all three tests.

CSM v/s PSM – Exam pattern

As we have said earlier, a candidate needs to clear only one exam to obtain the CSM Certification. The exam is of MCQ type and it comprises of 50 questions. A time limit of 60 minutes is provided to the candidates to complete the exam.  

On the other hand, a candidate needs to clear three exams to obtain the PSM Certification. The first exam consists of 80 questions that include MCQ questions, MAQ (Multiple Answer Questions), and True/false statements. A time limit of 60 minutes is provided to attempt these questions.

The PSM II exam comprises of 30 questions. This exam also includes MCQ, MAQ, and True/False statements, and a time limit of 90 minutes is provided to attempt these questions. This exam tests a candidate’s ability to make decisions by analyzing the best options in a given scenario.  

The PSM III exam comprises of 34 questions. It includes MCQ questions, essays, and questions that are based on case studies. A time limit of 120 minutes is given to answer these questions.

This exam is relatively tougher to clear as it comprises of questions that are based on complex real-life situations and case studies.

Certification cost – CSM v/s PSM  

The certification fee of CSM is not fixed as it depends on the institution in which you have enrolled for obtaining the certification. The certification cost might vary from $500 to $2500.

However, if you fail to clear this test in the first attempt, you can attempt it again within the next sixty days. You will not be charged any fee for attempting the exam for the second time.  

For subsequent attempts, you will have to pay $25 as an exam fee.

For appearing for the PSM I exam, a candidate has to pay $150 as an exam fee. The exam fee for the second and third exams will cost you $250, and $500 respectively. These exam fees are fixed since PSM Certification is only offered by Scrum.org.  

If a candidate fails to clear the exam in the first attempt, he/she can reattempt it within 14 days without paying any additional fee. Only the candidates who have undergone the 2-day training program get the second attempt.

Also, the CSM Certification has to be renewed every 2 years by paying a renewal fee of $150. No such fee has to be paid for renewing the PSM Certification as it has lifetime validity.

CSM v/s PSM – The better option?  

It is difficult to determine the better certification course among these two because both of them are highly popular and recognized across the globe. CSM Certifications are slightly more popular as the candidates go through the training program before appearing for the exam.

However, a candidate can appear for the PSM I exam without completing the training program. CSM gives you a basic understanding of the SCRUM framework and concepts and almost any candidate can clear it without any issues.  

However, only the candidates who have in-knowledge and thorough experience of using the SCRUM framework can clear the PSM exams. Therefore, we can say that the PSM Certification will give a much deeper knowledge about the SCRUM concepts and its implementation as compared to the CSM Certification.

Final Verdict  

Both these certifications are equally important and you can go for anyone of them to be a certified SCRUM master. However, we have to say that CSM is more in demand these days because of its easily passing criteria and global acceptance.