Apologies to the Davos crowd: The single most consequential ski retreat in the history of technology and management is probably one that convened at The Lodge at Snowbird resort, in Utah, back in February of 2001. Seventeen people from the software world, frustrated with the industry’s slow-moving, “documentation-driven” ways, gathered in hopes of developing a more nimble approach. Cobbling together ideas from existing methodologies, they did what all revolution-minded upstarts do: they wrote a manifesto.
The guidelines they hammered out over three days — four core values, 12 principles — were dubbed Agile, and the pithy manifesto went on to have mammoth influence, first in software development, then in the larger realms of product and project management. Nearly 20 years later, the Agile method — which emphasizes continuous improvement across a project broken down into smaller stages (sprints) — has become a staple of businesses small and large.
10 Agile Bootcamp & Course Providers to Know
- Agile Alliance
- Scrum Alliance
- General Assembly
- Northwestern University
- Project Management Institute
- The Job Hackers
But as Agile proliferated, so too did certification options, as did the number of organizing bodies that issue them. It all means that picking a training course and bootcamp can be a bit confounding. With that in mind, we rounded up 21 notable options, considering factors like agenda focus, cost versus scope, reputation and teaching style. As they say in Scrum, let’s start the sprint.
Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master Course
Scrum.org offers six certification tracks, but the most popular is this base-level option. Scrum is essentially a planning structure within Agile that prioritizes quick design sprints (often a week or two) within a roughly month-long time frame, or “time box.” (Needless to say, Agile is dense with jargon, but the concepts are generally intuitive.) Scrum.org carries weight due to its founder, Ken Schwaber, who was a signatory of the original Agile Manifesto and a co-creator of the Scrum framework. PSM courses affiliated with the site are available in several North American cities, including Seattle, Atlanta, Columbus, Dallas, Chicago and New York City.
Cost: $1,200 - $1,495
Agile Alliance Training Courses
Like Scrum.org, the Agile Alliance carries a strong reputation thanks in no small part to the fact that it was also founded by signatories of Agile’s founding document. It, too, regularly offers in-person training courses, most of which are two-day intensives led by certified instructors. Sessions routinely focus on the aforementioned Professional Scrum Master track, plus the Certified Scrum Master certificate, which is comparable to PSM, but issued by a different (but also widely acknowledged) body, called the Scrum Alliance.
Scrum Alliance’s In-Person Training
Speaking of the Scrum Alliance, the course-search map on that Agile organization’s site is a great way to find upcoming in-person training sessions in your area that prep students for SA-sanctioned certification exams. Courses that focus on Certified Scrum Master or Certified Scrum Product Owner certification — two of three foundation-level certificates offered by the Alliance — are offered frequently, but you can also track advanced certificate courses, like Advanced Certified Scrum Master and Certified Scrum Professional. (We know, the glut of certificate options and nondescript names can overwhelm; here’s a breakdown for reference.) All the courses listed are certified by the Scrum Alliance, which along with Scrum.org, Agile Alliance and PMI, issues certificates that are considered industry-approved.
Cost: CSM courses start at $1,195
BrainStation’s Agile Certificate Course
Respected professional-upskilling provider BrainStation is known for its data and design bootcamps, but you can also learn the art of agility through this part-time, on-site course. The agenda covers Kanban protocol, Scrum methodology, Agile basics and sprint simulations. The course is available in Boston, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver.
General Assembly’s Agile and Scrum Bootcamp
Another longtime bootcamp purveyor, General Assembly, offers a single-day, six-hour Agile and Scrum intensive that covers a lot of ground in a short window, at a relatively low cost. Students read the Manifesto, learn Scrum roles, explore planning details like product and sprint backlogs and, of course, run a sprint. At press time, upcoming classes are scheduled for Chicago, Austin, Boston, Denver and Los Angeles. Browse by location here to see what’s currently on deck in your area.
ASPE’s Agile Boot Camp for Non-Software Work: ICP Fundamentals Certification
As the course title notes, this two-day, entry-level course teaches the basics from a project management and operations perspective, rather than focusing on software development. It provides overviews of the most important fundamentals: Scrum techniques, how to approach backlog planning, Agile’s all-important concept of continuous improvement, Kanban scheduling boards and more. The course runs publicly in cities such as Omaha, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago and Houston, and public sessions are always being added. It’s also available online, as a three-day course, or as a private onsite at your location.
Agile Brain Group’s Certified Scrum Master
This training and consulting firm offers several courses throughout the Agile/Scrum ladder. Start here, a two-day bootcamp that lays the foundational must-knows, includes coaching advice, outlines various definitions and runs through full Scrum simulations. Upcoming sites include New York City, Pittsburgh, Charlotte and Baltimore, but your best bet might be to keep an eye on the calendar.
CollabNet’s Agile, SAFe and Scrum Training
This software firm hosts courses in Scrum certification and SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework), a way of scaling up startup-friendly lean techniques for enterprises. The course offered most often, and in the most locations, focuses on CSM prep. The Scrum Alliance-certified course includes a waiver for SA-issued certification exam fees plus a two-year membership with SA. Check here for upcoming dates and locations.
Cost: $1,275 (CSM)
The Job Hackers’ Agile MBA
The most notable aspect of this course is what it doesn’t include: Agile MBA is free of cost for participants who are in a career transition. The nonprofit touts a one-third job placement rate within 90 days and, in the past, has awarded select students cash “scholarships” to cover the cost of the Professional Scrum Master exam. Classes are offered in-person in San Francisco, or available online through Zoom.
Learning Tree’s Agile Fundamentals
This well-established IT training outfit offers a few Agile course options, but this popular foundation-level class appears to be the best entry point for those who plan to use the methodology for product development. The three-day course covers elemental must-knows like Scrum, Kanban, Lean and XP. An online version of the course is also available, but it’s not instructor-led and it isn’t quite as comprehensive as the in-person option, which is available in Seattle, San Francisco, Austin and Denver, among other cities.
Cost: $1,090 - $2,250
Boston University’s Product Management with Lean, Agile and System Design Thinking
This six-week course, available via edX and led by a BU professor and a BU fellow, gets into the differences between — and advantages of — various Agile-adjacent management approaches: lean, design thinking, waterfall and Agile itself. The course focuses squarely on Agile from a product manager’s perspective — not that of a software developer or project manager. Students can expect to devote between four and eight hours per week. It is available as a standalone course or part of BU’s larger online Digital Product Management MicroMasters sequence.
Cost: Free / $399 with certificate
University of Maryland’s Professional Certificate in Agile Management
One of the deepest online dives available for project-management-focused Agile, this five-course sequence explores the philosophies that underline Scrum, how Agile encourages speedy turnarounds, the theory of constraints and variations between Agile techniques, including “hybrid” styles like Lean Startup and Scaled Agile for the Enterprise (SAFe). The self-paced sequence also examines case studies from industries as varied as software, finance and aerospace. Participants should expect to spend about two to three hours per week on coursework.
Cost: $762.30 - $847
Cornell’s Agile Project Management Approaches
Unlike many online options, this two-week Agile-for-project-managers course is guided by an instructor (Linda Nozick, of Cornell’s civil and environmental engineering department), making it an attractive alternative for those who prize a more direct, live learning experience over module-heavy, self-paced routes. Expect a dedicated workload of three to five hours per week. Some project management experience is recommended, as students are asked to draw on their experience in the field. The course can also be taken as part of Cornell’s project management certificate program ($3,900).
Villanova University’s Certificate in Agile Management
The course title may be slightly misleading, as the “certificate” refers to Villanova’s own in-house document of recognition, not one of the more broadly industry-recognized certificates. But with three eight-week courses spanning Agile essentials, real-world implementation strategies and, finally, mastering Scrum team leadership, the depth and breadth of the curriculum well-positions grads for either PMI-ACP or PSM certificate exams. Students also have the option to take the sequence’s classes à la carte, with prices ranging from $2,095 to $2,495, depending on the class.
Northwestern University’s Certificate in Agile Practices
This PMI-approved track has students complete one of five available “core” courses, plus two electives from 10 possible choices. All together, it covers the necessary amount of prerequisite study needed before taking the PMI-ACP exam. (Examinees are required to have completed at least 21 hours of Agile training before testing.) Depending on which courses one selects, the sequence can be done online, in person at Northwestern’s Evanston, Illinois, campus, or through a combination thereof. Elective options include soft skills training, an Excel focus and Agile estimating and planning.
Cost: $2,300 - $3,250
University of Virginia’s Agile and Design Thinking
Like Agile, design thinking had roots in the product world before finding broader application among project managers. Think of this live, instructor-led online course — taught by UVA-Darden School of Business professor Alex Cowan — as a fusion of sorts, blending the nimble, sprint-focused methodology of Agile with the user-centrism of design thinking. Graduates earn 25 hours that can be applied against the PMI training prerequisite. It is available via FutureLearn, which also hosts a Purdue-affiliated course on Agile approaches to strategy that may be of similar interest.
Cost: Free (six-week access) - $74 (permanent access plus FutureLearn certificate)
Project Management Institute’s Introduction to Agile
If you’re in project management, chances are you’ll come across the acronym PMI-ACP at some point. That’s PMI’s Agile Certified Practitioner, one of the handful of widely recognized Agile certifications. This online introductory-level course — which explores the various Agile methodologies, Agile-approved team-leadership practices and other foundational basics — is likely the best option for Agile newcomers with the PMI-ACP in their sights. Browse the full list of PMI’s available Agile courses here.
Agile with Atlassian Jira
Atlassian’s Jira task-tracking board has emerged over the last several years as one of the preferred options for Kanban-style workflow organization, for applications ranging from project management to software development. So it follows that this course — developed by the company itself and taught through the lens of Jira configuration — has emerged as one of the more popular online options for introductions to Agile. The beginner-level course, hosted by Coursera, is self-paced, though Atlassian recommends a four-week pacing, with between two and four hours of work devoted per week.
Cost: Free (with Coursera subscription)
Udemy’s Agile Crash Course: Agile Project Management; Agile Delivery
This online Agile crash course, hosted on Udemy, asks students to think of it as “Agile for Dummies.” Built around two hours of video lecture modules, the intro blitz also includes quizzes and nearly 70 reference handout downloads, designed to give curious parties a low-lift awareness of key concepts, historical context and — of course — a handy translation of the at-times-convoluted Agile lexicon.
Cost: $11.39 - $199.99, depending on current promotions
Udemy’s Scrum Certification Prep + Scrum Master + Agile Scrum Training
Another popular Agile option within the Udemy platform, this online course narrows its focus more granularly on Scrum — and on providing an introductory framework for project management pros looking to take the exam for Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master certificate. The course centers around 65 lectures across two hours of video, and topics include the various team roles, events and artifacts that make up Scrum. The instructor also has eight additional Agile-related Udemy courses to his name, which can be found here.
Cost: $11.39 - $199.99, depending on current promotions
LeadingAgile’s Certified Scrum Master Training
This Atlanta-based Agile consultancy hosts regular two-day, in-person intensives in its hometown region and in New York City. A Scrum Alliance-certified instructor, LeadingAgile provides courses designed to be thorough Agile and Scrum overviews, and the cost includes a two-year SA membership and a waiver for the Certified Scrum Master exam fee. The firm also hosts Certified Scrum Product Owner Training courses, for those more interested in a product take.
Cost: $995 - $1,250