PMP (PMI certified Project Management Professional) & SCPM (Stanford Certified Project Manager) both are well recognized & well adopted Project Management (referred as PM herafter) certifications. Today PMP is more popular world-wide but both credentials are well recognized in a large number of industries.
While both certifications help in promoting & supporting PM practitioners as well as the PM profession, both credentials evaluate & recognize different skills & proficiency levels of a Project Manager. There are fundamental differences in the process of achieving these certifications and who to certify, how to retain the credentials. At a broad level it’s appropriate to consider SCPM as an advance credential after PMP.
Stanford team rightly includes "Advanced" to indicate good distinction between PMP & SCPM (which is based on Stanford Advanced Project Management). Many SAPM courses refer to Project Management basic fundamentals which you would have learnt in PMP courseware. 
Here is more comprehensive comparison between PMP & SCPM:

PMP (Project Management Professional)
SCPM (Stanford Certified Project Manager)
Background & Supporting Organization
·         The PMP is one of the many PMI credentials that establish ones dedication to and proficiency in project management.
·         PMI is the world’s leading non-profit membership association that tries to foster & support the Project Management Profession.
·         The PMP certification program was initiated in 1984 to recognize an individual’s demonstrated understanding of the knowledge and skills to lead and direct project teams and to deliver results within the constraints of schedule, budget, and resources.
·         SCPM is one of the many professional certificate programs at Stanford University that establish proficiency of a Project Manager in understanding & executing advanced tools and techniques to strategically execute projects, programs, and portfolios.
·         Stanford University is one of the world's leading research and teaching institutions located at CA, USA.
·         SCPM certificate program has been around for at least 10 year to recognize Project Management professionals who successfully complete at least 6 SAPM courses (3 required & 3 optional courses).
Certification Objective
The PMP credentials are to recognize demonstrated knowledge and skills of a Project Management practitioner in leading and directing project teams and in delivering project results within the constraints of schedule, budget and resources.
·         SCPM certificate demonstrates mastery of advanced project management methods and techniques.
 ·         The SCPM credential is more like a degree program where participant need to take at least 6 SAPM courses conducted by Stanford Center for Professional Development ( SCPD ) and have to complete exam & evaluations for each SAPM course.
How to earn credentials
PMP credentials are earned purely by successfully completing the PMP exam that’s based on PM standards adopted by the PMI body of knowledge. How a personnel attains & master PMI standard is of less value. PMP certification does not mandate any course/class/lectures to be attended.
·         Today, there are multiple books, classes & tons of other study material that helps Project Managers to attain PMP credentials.
·         Even for seasonal Project Managers, it’s almost always needed to understand the PMI standards & terminology for Project Management as that terminology & processes may be defined differently in every organization.
SCPM credentials can only be earned by successfully completing at least 6 SAPM courses (online / at Stanford Campus). 
For those who take the SAPM courses online, successfully completing the courses includes taking exam for each course and answer atleast 85% questions correctly. 
Course completion also includes evaluation for each course, both for online / on campus attendees.
SAPM courses have well defined curriculum & way to master the curriculum i.e. participant have to attend the SAPM classes (online / at Stanford Campus)
Credential Maintenance
·         Once earned, PMP credentials are valid for 3 years.
·         To retain the PMP status beyond 3 years, a PMP certified personnel needs to participate in the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program to maintain an active certification status.
·         The PMP certification cycle lasts three years from the date you pass the examination, during which you must attain no less than 60 professional development units (PDUs) & paying renewal fee to PMI at the end of 3rd year.
Once earned, SCPM credential is for lifetime and does not expire. This is like a degree that you earn once and hold forever.
Target Audience
Those who lead and direct cross-functional teams to deliver projects within the constraints of schedule, budget, and scope.
Those who manage small projects or large-scale initiatives irrespective of the industry one belongs to. People from diverse organizations take SAPM courses & earn SCPM credentials.
Popularity & Recognition 
PMP as a PM credential is more popular with worldwide PM community today. This may very well change in future though.
SAPM is more popular in USA but less popular than PMP in other parts of the globe.
PMP certification requires that an applicant meets a broad academic & experience criteria. Specifically here is how the eligibility criteria looks like:
Educational Background
Project Management Experience
Project Management
High school diploma,
associate’s degree or global
Minimum five years/60 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at
least 7,500 hours were spent leading and directing project tasks*
35 contact hours of formal
Bachelor’s degree or global
Minimum three years/36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at
least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing project tasks*
35 contact hours of formal
SAPM (essentially SCPM) courses require that an applicant hold a bachelor's degree, a minimum of three to five years of experience managing projects. Applicant may also need to complete the Project Management Mastery course online to satisfy admission requirements.
Application Process
·         Applicants have to submit online/on paper application providing all details & references about his/her education, PM experience & formal PM education.
·         Depending on online/on-paper applications, PMI takes 5 to 20 business days(mostly sooner) in approving the application.
·         PMI needs to approve the application before one could register for the PMP exam.
·         Applicants have to submit online application to Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) highlighting that he/she not meet the eligibility criteria but also submit a “Statement of Purpose” to convince SCPD that he/she really need the advance PM knowledge.
·         SCPD approves the application in 10 days (mostly sooner). Once approved, applicant at register at SAPM courses at own pace.  
Validity of Approved Application
Approved PMP application is valid only for one year and applicant needs to take the PMP exam within one year from the day his/her application is approved by PMI.
In case applicant fails to take the PMP exam in the one year limit, he/she needs to re-submit the updated application to PMI.
Approved SAPM application never expires.
Once the application is approved, one can begin coursework at anytime. In fact one can take more than 6 SAPM courses & Stanford recommends that as their curriculum continually gets changed and new courses get added.   
The PMP Certification is a single exam that cost between US $150 to US $555, depending on various membership & other criteria. Refer to PMP Handbook for latest details.
Each SAPM course cost amount:
  • $2600/course at Stanford (Discount: 10% discount on early registration before a fixed deadline. Refer to for the deadline)
  • $950/online course
Refer to SAPM Brochure for latest details.
·         4 Hours/ 200 question.
·         PMP exams are conducted at Prometric Exam Centers.
Participants who take SAPM courses at Stanford Campus do not have to take a test, however, they are required to be present in the course for entire time. These participants may only miss 30 minutes for breaks, late arrivals, and business calls and if they you do miss more than 30 minutes, they are required to do a make-up assignment prior to receiving a certificate of completion for the course.
 For participant who take the course online, they are required to successfully complete an online, multiple choice test at the end of each course. Here are more details:
·         One exam for each SAPM course.
·         60 questions in each exam.
·         No time limit for online students. For more detail on the exam refer to my previous blog here.
·         Students can print the exam before starting to listen to online videos and keep answering exam questions as they proceed with the online videos. At the end they will need to submit all answers to the SAPM exam site.
·         Exams can be taken online at any time in a manner similar to accessing online videos. No prometric center is involved - no need to take prior appointments with any Prometric Centers.
Further Reference for more details


Thank you for the sharing, I'm a SCPM also.

I hold both the PMP and the SCPM and I agree that the SCPM should be generally considered an advanced certification for the experienced project/program/portfolio manager. I've also encountered quite a few product managers or product team members with Google and Silicon Valley companies that hold the SCPM.

SCPM is more about innovation, strategy, leadership and quant skills for middle or upper management. The PMP on the other hand certifies that a manager or tech lead possesses the fundamental understanding and practical experience of leading a full life cycle project.

For myself, I can say that I would not have gotten as much out of the SAPM program if I wasn't already an experienced PM with PMP cert. They compliment each other very nicely and I encourage serious PM's to pursue both.

Thanks for the detailed description and your effort is highly appreciated. However, I will have to disagree with the previous anonymous comment (Sun, 01/02/2011). As a certified PMP and SCPM I have seen the difficulties in both. If you just want to clear the exam, it is possible to do so in both PMP and SCPM. If you like to really learn then it is possible to learn in either of them. It's up to you to decide. One should not be judgemental and criticize either of the two certifications. Both have their merits and demerits. The target demographic is different and the purpose is also different. One should carefully consider what is the reason for taking up the certification and then pursue it. One more important thing to remember: if anything that we learn is not used or under utilized, with in 6 months it's lost or forgotten and the human tendency is not to learn it again. I remember the quote by Epictetus: "It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows." So please don't undermine a certified PMP or a SCPM. They took up the initiative, took time off their work and life, paid the money, followed the procedures to apply, spent time in learning, took the exams and cleared it to get their certification. If they did get certified successfully then they are within .05% of the population. Trust me, they can do things and get things done better than an uncertified person. By the way, I would make an unsolicited suggestion to take up PMP first and then SCPM. One request to the people who want to comment: Kindly refrain from making sweeping and blanket statements. An educated mind does not criticize, instead looks to improve and better the current state.

Worth noting - as of 2011, >450K PMP professionals and about 3K SCPM. SCPM may be considered more prestigious and delivers more high-level content aimed at more senior professionals (I teach for the SAPM program). PMP is much more in demand from a job requirements perspective (I teach PMP bootcamps as well).

I will agree with the above. I have an architect, and a test manager, on my current team that have a PMP; however, when I included them in some of my planning sessions -- they were clueless about most of what I was discussing. Simply used a study guide to learn the material, in order to pass the test.

Unfortunate that the cost is such a prohibitive factor for the SAPM program :^/

As a Charter Member I have to say that this is the best overview of the differences between PMP and SCPM I have seen to date.

Thank you

tanx, so beneficial info

What a great comparison! Thank you very much.
I will link your comparison on my blog:

Such a deep aesnwr! GD&RVVF

I have the SCPM cert and I do have to say that I would hold this in higher regard over the PMP. Reason is you have to take the 6 grad level courses and display the knowledge to pass the 6 exams. If you are not a PM with actual experience, you will not pass Stanford's 6 exams with a 85% grade. with PMP you can buy a cd online and study the test questions over and over until you can pass the 200 question exam. Apples to Oranges

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