Certified Scrum Master (CSM)

Certified Scrum Master from Scrum Alliance USD $1,100 - $1,500

Product Name: Certified Scrum Master

Product Description: The Certified Scrum Master Certification is the entry-level Scrum certification provided by the Scrum Alliance. It is the oldest Scrum certification and also the most widely held Scrum certification.

Review by Anthony C Mersino on January 10, 2020

Agile and Scrum are hot topics today and Scrum Masters are in high demand. The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification is one of a handful of certifications that are considered qualifiers for the Scrum Master position. That said, certification alone doesn’t mean candidates have the ability to perform in the role of Scrum Master.

Unlike some other certifications targeted to Scrum Masters, the CSM certification requires that you attend 16 hours of training from a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) which can be pricey. In fact, initially the CSM only required that participants sit through a 2-day training class and they would automatically receive the CSM certification. In response to criticisms about how easy this was to achieve, in 2012 the Scrum Alliance improved the rigor by adding a 35 question assessment to qualify for the CSM. That has evolved to a 50 question online assessment, with a 60 minute time limit and a requirement to get at least 37 correct to pass (75%).

Scrum Alliance does not require their trainers to use the same materials and as a result, the content can vary widely. There can also be quite a variance in the experience and quality of the instructors.

I feel fortunate to have received the the CSM Training from Craig Larman back in 2013. Craig went well beyond just the CSM topics and included a primer on Lean, some of the scaling techniques included in LeSS, and pointed out his ‘Big Ideas’ of Scrum. He clearly knew his stuff and had plenty of hands-on experience with agile and Scrum.

Craig was quick to point out that the “certification” as a Scrum Master was just the start and it in no way was preparation to step into the role. He said that a new Scrum Master should hit the books for 6 months and read 70+ books before they would be ready to support a team.

Applicable Role: Scrum Master

Prerequisites: You must attend an in-person, 16-hour course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®). After successfully completing the course, you will need to take the 50 question CSM test and answer 37 out of the 50 questions correctly within the 60 minute time limit. After you pass the CSM test, you will be asked to accept the CSM License Agreement and complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile.

Experience Requirement:  No experience is required to qualify to take the CSM assessment.

Cost: There is no fee for the assessment. The required training course costs can be from $1,100 – $1,500 per student for a public course. Onsite or corporate training may be significantly less. In addition, the CSM requires ongoing membership in Scrum Alliance and must be renewed every 2 years.

Renewal Requirements: Like other certifications from the Scrum Alliance, the CSM must be renewed every two years. This requires a demonstration of ongoing learning and payment of $100. The ongoing learning opportunities are quite varied and don’t necessarily cost anything. Learn more here: https://www.scrumalliance.org/get-certified/renewing-certifications

Popularity / Recognition: The CSM is the single most popular agile certification. This is partly due to its longevity – it was the first Scrum certification and has been around since 2001.

Bottom Line: This is a solid certification – among the top 10 most popular and most recognized Agile and Scrum Certifications. The value of the CSM certification was diminished because so many people sat through a 2-day class, got the CSM and never really used it or fully understood Scrum.

Still, rigor has been added to the exam, it is supported by the Scrum Alliance and it is the most popular Scrum certification. I put this in my “top 10” of the most valuable trainings and certifications to obtain.

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  • Scrum Alliance is an established provider that has been around since 2001
  • The CSM is highly recognized and one of the most popular agile & Scrum certifications
  • Good coverage of the Scrum Guide and the Scrum Master role


  • Must take the training course to get the certification
  • The required training course can be pricey
  • Requires renewal every 2 years
  • Quality and content can vary widely between trainers – each can use their own materials
  • Lack of rigor has resulted in many CSMs being awarded to people who don’t understand Scrum

Scrum Alliance Profile and Contact Information

Description from WebsiteFounded in 2001, we're the largest, most established and influential professional membership and certification organization in the Agile community. Our nonprofit association has certified more than 750,000 practitioners worldwide.

Our vision is to “Transform the World of Work” with a mission to guide and inspire individuals, leaders, and organizations with practices, principles, and values that create workplaces that are joyful, prosperous, and sustainable.
Year Founded2001
Thought LeadershipKen Schwaber founded the Scrum Alliance with Mike Cohn and Esther Derby. Ken Schwaber was one of the co-creators of the Scrum Framework, one of the 17 authors of the Agile Manifesto and a founding member of the Agile Alliance.

Thought leadership at Scrum Alliance is a product of the Certified Scrum Trainers and other practitioners who work with organizations to promote Scrum and agility. Scrum Alliance recently organized themselves to align to the Scrum Framework and created a Chief Product Owner role.
Email Contactsupport@scrumalliance.org
Mailing Address7237 Church Ranch Blvd. #410, Westminster, CO 80021 USA
Certificant DirectoryDirectory of Scrum Alliance Certification Holders

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