RSM vs PSM vs CSM vs IC Agile
What's the difference?

(updated 2024)
CSM vs PSM vs RSM vs IC Agile

This article is for Agile newcomers
Goto this article if you are an Agile veterans

Scrum is an Agile framework invented by Dr. Jeff Sutherland that helps teams collaborate and succeed in a business environment where the business situation is rapidly evolving. Teams following the Scrum methods are encouraged to work transparently and self-managed while working on a problem and continually improve themselves through self-reflection.

It is a global trend for leading organizations and companies to hire candidates familiar with Agile principles, especially the Scrum framework. Candidates often need to demonstrate their awareness through acquiring Scrum certifications. Hence, knowing about PSM vs CSM and RSM, Agile, and Scrum Glossary is beneficial.

A recent article published by Forbes Magazine says that IT professionals with Scrum certifications earn an average of $17,000 more annually than the median IT worker's salary. From an employee perspective, Scrum certifications let you demonstrate additional qualifications on your resume and get hired faster.

You can read this eBook to understand better the Scrum framework, roles, responsibilities, and skills involved. This FAQ will also provide you with some quick answers.

Since the demand for certified Scrum professionals is on the rise, we can take a look at the three industry-recognized certifications: the Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®), Professional Scrum Master (PSM), and Registered Scrum Master(RSM) that can add value to your Scrum career.

Main Differences Between CSM, PSM, RSM, and IC Agile Certification

Let's understand the differences between the certifications so that you can make an informed choice.

Accrediting Bodies

Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) is a credential from Scrum Alliance®, a non-profit organization that guides agile practices, principles, and values. Mike Cohn, Esther Derby, and Ken Schwaber founded Scrum Alliance in 2002. Scrum Alliance is the first Scrum accreditation organization in the world.

Professional Scrum Master (PSM™) is offered by Scrum.org. Ken Schwaber left the Scrum Alliance and founded Scrum.org in 2009. Scrum.org seeks to improve professionalism in Scrum training worldwide by recognizing Scrum understanding through multiple levels of examinations and certification schemes.

Registered Scrum Master™ (RSM) was designed by Dr. Jeff Sutherland around 2015 and is offered by Scrum Inc. trainers worldwide. As the inventor of Scrum, Dr. Jeff Sutherland realized vital knowledge from the original, high-performance Scrum is missing in other certification programs. In addition, he envisioned a constantly evolving learning program where Dr. Sutherland and the most experienced Scrum practitioners could update the learning material continuously collectively to benefit the students. The result is a constantly improving program that preserves the true legacy of high-performance Scrum.

Agile Fundamentals by IC Agile is an organizational agility certification without a specific focus on any single agile methodology or framework. IC Agile is a certification-centric organization characterized by its range of coverage. Lisa Atkins worked with IC Agile to create an Agile Coaching program when IC Agile was initially formed. Gradually, as the variety of Agile certifications expands, it seems to be losing focus. The lack of credible knowledge sources behind their certifications also magnifies the situation.

Duration of Training

The CSM course is led by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®), the PSM course is led by a Professional Scrum TrainerTM (PST), or a qualified candidate can skip the training and get certified by taking the exam directly. The RSM course is led by a Registered Scrum Trainer (RST).

All three certification training courses, CSM, PSM, and RSM, are two days (14 to 16 hours) each. However, there is a crucial difference between the three programs: the completeness of the Scrum knowledge beyond the basic rules after two training days.

RSM is complete, PSM requires PSM II and PSM III, and CSM is not designed to cover the complete Scrum knowledge from the perspective of its inventor.

In summary, to be adequately prepared to use Scrum to deliver work results, RSM needs 2 days, PSM needs 2 days x 3 courses = 6 days. Both the CSM program and the Agile Fundamentals program are insufficient.

The candidate should be aware of the associated time and tuition costs.

Levels of Training

To effectively apply Scrum as a system to drive results, a candidate must master the knowledge at the team and multi-team (scale levels) levels. All three programs, CSM, PSM, and RSM, provide team-level training and certification. Only RSM and PSM provide continuing education and certifications at the scale level. Scrum Alliance does not provide knowledge and guidance at this level.

The Nexus framework is PSM at the multi-team level. The Scrum@Scale framework is RSM at the multi-team level.

The global adoption rate is 1% for Nexus and 19% for Scrum@Scale. Scrum@Scale is the fastest-growing multi-team business agility framework worldwide in 2023 and 2024.

Learning Outcomes

The CSM and PSM I programs teach the basic rules of the Scrum framework. People who have successfully achieved CSM or PSM I demonstrate a foundational level of Scrum knowledge and are well-versed in the terminology and approach to Scrum. Passing the PSM II acknowledges a deeper understanding of Scrum principles and the ability to apply Scrum in more situations.

The RSM program teaches the original Scrum knowledge as invented by Dr. Jeff Sutherland - The high-performance True Scrum. It covers all the basics included in CSM and PSM I-III. In addition, it provides the essential elements to create high-performance teams.

The RSM program is often delivered through the RSMPO course to provide a holistic understanding of the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the team members (Developers) to help candidates build teams that maximize performance.


Knowledge of Scrum is one of the most sought-after skills in recent times, and the CSM, PSM, and RSM are highly respected credentials in the Scrum world. While many prefer RSM as the only authentic original training from Dr. Sutherland, it requires renewal.

The PSM certification program involves a significantly more costly learning and assessment process, but the certificates are valid for a lifetime. The CSM program can be enough for candidates who only focus on the basics and have no immediate need for implementation. The Agile Fundamentals program does not focus on Scrum.

We hope we've helped you to make an informed choice! If you still can't decide, connect with us to get the answers you seek. Either way, you can't go wrong. Good luck on your Agile journey!

Keep me updated

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.

We're committed to your privacy. CI Agile uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. For more information, check out our privacy policy.

Newsletter successfully subscribed.