商学院当前实行的机制开始于1994年。当时，MBA就业服务委员会（MBA Career Services Council）开始制定一系列报告标准，目的是统一一流学校的就业报告一。该委员会是针对MBA就业服务专业人员与招聘人员的专业组织。
麻省理工大学斯隆商学院（MIT's Sloan School of Business）就业服务中心主任杰基•威尔伯当时就在MBA就业服务委员会的标准委员会担任联合主席，她说：“我们聚在一起，进行了长时间的讨论。”这些标准在1999年被MBA就业服务委员会正式采用。2006年，委员会一致通过了一系列审计流程。最终形成了一套广泛的、可行的统一规定。
然而今年夏天美国佛罗里达大学（University of Florida）爆出的丑闻则显示，即便一些商学院也必须自我检点。佛罗里达州的《甘斯维尔太阳报》（Gainsville Sun）报道称，对佛罗里达大学进行的一次校内调查发现，学校在2009年向《美国新闻与世界报道》（US News and World Report）提供的就业数据并不准确（当年，学校并未向MBA就业服务委员会提交其就业记录，但威尔伯称，如果进行审计，应该能发现其中的出入）。报道称，部分正在求职的学生被作为已就业学生，另外还有一些尚在求职的学生则干脆被全部删除，无法在就业数据中得以体现。不过学校对该则报道的结论予以强烈否认。
范德堡大学欧文管理学院（Vanderbilt University's Owen School of Management）就业服务中心执行主任里德•麦克纳马拉认为，学校有强烈的动机，提供“更体面”的就业报告。因为，即使统计数据出现些微变化，也有可能导致学校排名的大幅波动，而这将会直接影响学校的申请人数和资金支持。
Professional schools have had better years. Facing a brutal job market, underemployed graduates have begun to speak up, some even suing their former institutions, claiming they were duped into acquiring massive debt loads based on the promise of a secure, six-figure-salary job.
That promise is particularly critical at business schools, where graduates expect a quick financial payoff as well as an education. At these programs, the standards for reporting employment statistics, in true B-school fashion, are rigorous and involve accountants (a system some law schools are considering). But even those career statistics can have their flaws. Prospective students take heed: The six-figure school-reported numbers are not a guarantee of a sweet paycheck come graduation day.
The current system has its roots in 1994, when the MBA Career Services Council (CSC), the professional association for MBA career services professionals and recruiters, started developing a set of reporting standards to allow for uniform career reporting across the top schools.
"We all sat around in a room and we hashed it out," says Jackie Wilbur, career services director at MIT's Sloan School of Business who was co-chair of the MBA Career Services Council's standards committee at the time. Those standards were officially adopted by the CSC in 1999. In 2006, it established a set of agreed upon procedures to allow for auditing. The result was a uniform set of extensive, enforceable rules.
In many ways, B-schools have led the charge in employment reporting standards, Wilbur says. She expects other types of programs will likely follow suit and double down on reporting standards.
"Given the rising cost of education, every piece of the equation of the educational offering is going to have to go more and more this way," Wilbur says -- including undergrad programs. "Parents are going to demand better information about return on investment."
But a scandal this summer at the University of Florida revealed that even some B-schools still have to clean up their act. Florida's Gainsville Sun reported that an internal university investigation found the school had provided US News and World Report with inaccurate employment data in 2009 (it did not submit its records to the CSC that year, though Wilbur says an audit would have picked up the discrepancies). The school vehemently denied the conclusions of the report, which found that several students were listed as employed when they were seeking employment, and that other students seeking employment were omitted from the data altogether.
A host of reasons to fudge the data
Schools have a strong incentive to deliver good employment reports, says Read McNamara, executive director of career services at the Vanderbilt University's Owen School of Management, as even tiny changes in the stats can lead to big changes in a school's ranking, which, in turn, can directly affect application numbers and funding.
Emily Anderson, co-chair of the CSC and Vanderbilt's senior associate director of career services, says that each year about 100 schools volunteer for random auditing checks. Of those, about 25 are selected each year, meaning schools can expect to be audited about once every four years. Most career services directors agree that the audits are necessary.
Among the chief temptations: not including enough students -- schools may selectively include only graduates with high-paying jobs, though Wilbur says the CSC requires a school to report responses from 85% of each class for each report. Some member schools are requesting that the standard be raised to a minimum of 95%.
A school may also include too many students. One program, which had enrolled a professional athlete, attempted to report his outsize salary in their average. Only "MBA-level" jobs are included in the report (sports aren't considered MBA level, even the pros), but that can be a tricky definition. Misreading of that definition can also run the other way, and can result in some lower paying jobs being deemed as not MBA level and discarded from the stats. Wilbur notes that, as in the case of the athlete, the auditing process should catch these types of errors.
大部分关于MBA毕业生的累计薪酬统计数据都缺乏说服力。管理专业研究生入学考试委员会（Graduate Management Admission Council）报告称，2010年毕业生的平均起薪为78,820美元，其中42%获得了平均15,000美元的签约奖金；但PayScale的研究却发现，2010年MBA毕业生的平均起薪（包括奖金）为61,000美元。PayScale的数据涉及所有拥有MBA学位的人，统计的范围更广，但是，统计对象不仅仅局限于精英毕业生。
The CSC also has to contend with the hurdle of how the data itself is collected. According to the standards, the information must come from a "reliable source," but the criteria for what constitutes a reliable source are loose. It can be a parent, employer or "your personal knowledge" -- leaving room for interpretation, or error.
"I'm not going to tell you every school's employment report is perfect because they're probably not," Wilbur says. But as far as reporting in and open and comparable manner across schools, she says, "We're so much further along than almost any other type of professional degree program."
Aspiring MBAs: What to keep in mind
In most cases, dirty accounting will not skew a B-school's employment picture dramatically. Prospective students should instead be wary of other things, says Al Lee of PayScale, an employment data research firm. Students should look out for what he calls the "happy graduate bias," where unemployed graduates are less likely to report their status than their salaried former classmates.
Would-be MBAs should also note that salary statistics are based on students with jobs -- and a high average salary may not mean that graduates' salaries were higher, but that low-paying jobs were drying up, keeping them from pulling down the average. For example, Lee says, official reports of the overall average salary for college graduates actually went up during the recession because only exceptional students got hired, even though the total number of students with jobs took a dramatic dip.
B-school hopefuls should also look out for the types of people included in the data. Some MBA grads may have high-paying jobs that they're going back to. Others may have years of work experience. The cautious buyer will look at the salary in his industry of choice, independent industry salary data, and -- if the school reports it -- the starting pay based on a person's years of work experience.
Most aggregate salary data for MBA graduates is anything but conclusive. While the Graduate Management Admission Council reports that the median starting salary for 2010 grads was $78,820 -- with 42% receiving a median $15,000 signing bonus, PayScale research indicates that the average 2010 starting MBA salary was $61,000 including bonuses. The PayScale data, which screened for anyone who identified as having an MBA, is drawn from a larger and more inclusive, but probably less elite pool of grads.
"One thing that's absolutely clear is that if you just go to a random MBA program it is not a guaranteed route to a six-figure salary after you finish," Lee says. "The top 20 programs, there's a decent chance that could happen, but once you get out of the top 20, that's just not the case."
Compounding the problem, top programs also tend to offer better and more thorough salary and career reporting statistics. Other schools will often neglect to break down salary data by industry or years of experience. So what to do to hack through the jungle of career stats? Check the sample size, look at the percentage of the class with jobs, and look at what jobs they're getting. Prospective students should do this before singing up for any professional program, and – most important – before taking on debt to pay for it.