In the Agile world, Scrum stands tall as a beacon of efficient project management. With two prominent bodies, Scrum.org and Scrum Alliance, offering certification programs, the choice between Professional Scrum Master-I (PSM-I) and Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) courses can be pivotal for professionals and organizations aiming to embrace Agile practices.

Let's delve into the differences between these two offerings to help you make an informed decision.

Curriculum and Focus

Professional Scrum Master (PSM-I): The Professional Scrum Master (PSM-I) course, offered by Scrum.org, is designed to impart a deep understanding of Scrum theory, values, and practices. It emphasizes practical application and situational expertise, focusing on agility, collaboration, and empiricism.

Certified Scrum Master (CSM): The Certified Scrum Master course, from Scrum Alliance, takes a broader approach. It covers Scrum principles and practices, team dynamics, and servant leadership. It not only focuses on the Scrum framework but also explores ways to facilitate teams and organizations effectively.

Certification Validity and Renewal

Professional Scrum Master (PSM-I): The certification from Scrum.org holds lifetime validity, reflecting the enduring nature of the skills you acquire. You won't have to worry about renewals.

Certified Scrum Master (CSM): Scrum Alliance's Certified Scrum Master certification is valid for two years. To maintain your certification status, you'll need to pay a renewal fee (USD 100) and earn Scrum Education Units (SEUs) within the two-year period.

Fee Structure

Professional Scrum Master-I (PSM-I): Scrum.org does not mandate training to attempt the PSM-I exam. You can directly purchase one attempt of PSM-I exam from Scrum.org website. You also have the option to attend a Professional Scrum Master (PSM-I) training from Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) and get upto two attempts for PSM-I certification exam.

Certified Scrum Master (CSM): Scrum Alliance has a membership-based model. The course fee includes a two-year membership, which covers the certification cost, access to resources, and a community network. However, after two years, you'll need to pay a renewal fee and submit SEUs to maintain your certification.

Criteria Professional Scrum Master™ (PSM-I) Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®)
Accreditation body Scrum.org Scrum Alliance
Certification validity Life-time validity Valid for 2 years. Needs renewal regularly after 2 years.
Training and Fee Structure Attending the training is optional.
• If you attend training, course fees includes two attempts for PSM-I certification exam.
• If you do not attend the training, you can purchase one attempt of the PSM-I exam from Scrum.org website at USD 200.
Attending the training is mandatory.
• Course fee includes two-year membership model and cost of two certification exam attempts.
• If you are unable to clear the exam in two attempts or within 90 calendar days, you can purchase additional attempt for USD 25.
Renewal No renewal, PSM-I certification has a life-time validity. Every two years, you need to pay a renewal fee of USD 100 and submit 20 SEUs to maintain your certification.
Note:
• You can go for upgraded certification from Scrum Alliance and existing certifications will get automatically renewed.
• Renewal is required only for highest level certification that you possess. All lower-level certifications will get automatically renewed once you renew your highest level certification.
Exam attempts If you undergo training with a PST, you will receive:
• One FREE attempt of PSM I assessment, of value $200.
• If the first attempt is made within 14 days after receiving the official email from Scrum.org with password AND the participant does not pass in the first attempt, participant is eligible to get another FREE attempt of PSM I ($200)
• $100 discount (40%) on PSM II assessment (if directly purchased from Scrum.org without training)
You get two attempts to clear the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) exam in 90 days.
Exam Passing criteria • Passing score: 85%
• Time limit: 60 minutes
• Number of Questions: 80
• Format: Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer, True/False
• Passing score: 37 questions to be correct.
• Time limit: 60 minutes
• Number of Questions: 50
• Format: Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer, True/False

Making the Right Choice

When choosing between Professional Scrum Master (PSM-I) and Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), consider your goals, learning style, and organizational needs. If you value a lifetime certification without renewal requirements, in-depth Scrum knowledge, and a fee structure that rewards persistence, Professional Scrum Master (PSM-I) could be your path.

On the other hand, if you prefer a broader curriculum, community engagement through membership, continuous learning, and the flexibility to renew your certification, Certified Scrum Master might align better with your aspirations.

Both Professional Scrum Master (PSM-I) and Certified Scrum Master courses offer valuable insights into Agile and Scrum practices. Ultimately, the choice hinges on your preferences and career objectives.


About The Author:

Drishti Bajaj - a multi-faceted individual exploring one Sprint at a time. Please feel free to connect with her at [email protected] .

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the author’s own. The author welcomes and respects any difference of opinion.