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The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

In weighing the pros and cons of an MBA, prospective students need to be savvy consumers.

One tool at their disposal is the annual employment report of graduates – a rich source of information that serves as a window into the identity of a business school.

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"You should look at every employment report of the school you are looking at," advises Sharon Irwin-Foulon, director of career management at the University of Western Ontario's Ivey Business School.

Ivey, in London, Ont., is one of several schools that recently released annual employment reports with a breakdown of last year's graduates by country of origin, gender, employment by sector and pay.

Prospective MBA students can see where recent graduates landed jobs, the average salary three months after leaving school and the identity of campus recruiters. Even when a particular company is not represented, students should ask how a school can assist with career connections, says Ms. Irwin-Foulon.

Last year, 92 per cent of Ivey students seeking employment landed jobs within three months of earning their degree, with the average salary (with bonus and other compensation) pegged at $98,205.

By the same yardstick, 77 per cent of last year's MBA students at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver were employed within three months of graduation, with average total compensation (including bonuses) of $90,502.

At McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management in Montreal, 89 per cent of MBA graduates found jobs within three months of earning their degree, according to the school. The median salary was $81,694, with a median signing bonus of $10,000.

The University of Alberta's School of Business in Edmonton reports that 85 per cent of 2014 graduates landed jobs within three months of graduation, with an average salary of $72,175 and an average signing bonus of $5,000.

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For MBA students who put a premium on networking, class diversity is a proxy for opening doors.

At At Ivey, 75.5 per cent of Ivey MBA students come from Canada compared to 45 per cent (Canada and United States) from Sauder and 84 per cent at Alberta. By contrast, 78 per cent of McGill's Desautels MBA class is international.

A common misconception is that MBA graduates mainly head for finance and consulting.

Those two sectors account for 60 per cent of Ivey graduates, but their ultimate destination evolves over time. Of 22,000 Ivey alumni worldwide, 28 per cent are in financial services and 13 per cent are in consulting, with the remainder scattered across a wide range of industries.

"The MBA is only one piece of a longer-term career," says Ms. Irwin-Foulon.

Not surprisingly, given the Edmonton location of the Alberta School of Business, 14 per cent of its graduates were hired in the energy sector. But the rest of the 2014 class is evenly represented in financial services, health care, technology and real estate.

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As with any purchase, says Ms. Irwin-Foulon, students should figure out what they want from an MBA and which school can help them get it.

Business schools add master of accounting degrees

Several business schools are expanding their academic offerings for future accountants.

The latest is Carleton University's Sprott School of Business, with a 16-month program that starts this May. The Ottawa-based school will offer two summers of full-time studies, a four-month paid internship with an accounting firm (and the potential for another four months of work during the busy tax preparation season). Tuition is $15,000.

Earlier this year, York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto announced a master program for September while Alberta hopes to offer one by September of 2016.

The new programs come after the merger last year of three separate accounting bodies into CPA Canada, a new national organization for chartered professional accountants.

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"With the unification of the accounting bodies, we saw an opportunity to create a master of accounting," says Alberta dean Joseph Doucet. He says his school's proposed program will provide students "with all the in-class learning they need to go through to write the [profession's] credential exam and also to get a master degree which broadens their horizons and provides them with soft skills."

The new accounting degrees (master or specialty diplomas), which require accreditation by provincial accounting bodies, are an alternative to the CPA Professional Education Program, a series of six online modules offered by CPA Canada for those who prefer to study part-time.

Whichever route – in school or online – all prospective accountants must take CPA Canada's common final exam.

"We are very happy to work with the postsecondary institutions as they offer quality programming," says Sandy Hilton, director of professional education programs for CPA Canada. "It [the master of accounting option] is a nice choice for a student who does not want distance education and the online format."

Darrell Herauf, professor of accounting and acting director of the master program at Sprott, says he hopes the new graduate degree will attract students from diverse academic backgrounds.

"We want to attract people with a broader interests and more rounded individuals," he says, a sentiment shared by Mr. Hilton.

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"Overall, the profession is really keen to make sure the accounting professionals come from a diverse set of backgrounds," he says. "Candidates who come in with a non-accounting degree are highly sought out by employers."

Follow Jennifer Lewington and Business School News by subscribing to an RSS feed here.

Contact Jennifer at jlewington@bell.net.

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