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Four Essential Skills You Need to Become a Successful DBA Student

Completing a Doctor of Business Administration program is more possible if you cultivate a few important skills.

Are you looking to advance your business career to the highest levels? If so, you may be considering earning a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). Designed for experienced professionals who desire the deeper knowledge they need to make a real difference, a DBA degree program can put you in position to be an important leader in your industry.

“Earning a DBA is a large step up from earning a master’s degree,” says Dr. Yvonne Doll, the DBA faculty coordinator for Walden University’s College of Management and Technology. “Your ability to comprehend, analyze, research, write clearly, think critically, and verbally present your ideas will greatly improve.” But the benefits make the process worthwhile. Says Dr. Doll, “Earning a DBA degree has opened many doors that I could not imagine prior to becoming a doctoral student. I have had job offers, speaking opportunities, increased salaries, and instant respect based on earning my doctorate.”


The question becomes: Do you have what it takes to succeed in a top DBA program? Here are four essential skills you’ll need.


Curiosity is often cited as one of the most important skills in modern business.1 It is also one of the most important skills for anyone earning a doctorate. If you are not curious, you’re likely to struggle in advanced courses that dive deep into complex ideas. These courses demand critical thinking, which is fueled by the impulse to ask “why?” and “what if?”

Intense curiosity is also needed for your capstone project. What is a capstone project? It’s the project you must complete to earn your doctorate in business. In the Walden University DBA degree program, the capstone can either be a doctoral study (examining a real business problem), a consulting capstone (studying a real-world organization and coaching that organization to improve performance and/or overcome challenges), or a portfolio capstone. In a portfolio capstone, students choose one of two portfolio options: program evaluation or quantitative secondary data analysis. A program evaluation is systematic approach to collecting and analyzing data to assess how well a program is working and why. For quantitative data analysis, students will use an archival (secondary) dataset or combine multiple datasets to conduct their data analysis. In all three DBA capstones, the more curious you are, the more you will be able to learn and the more original your thinking will be—which are keys to completing a successful capstone.


In business, it is not uncommon to be pulled in multiple directions at once. And you have probably learned that in order to get anything meaningful done, you have to be able to tune out the noise and focus on the most pressing task. Focus is a key skill, and if you have mastered it, you will be well served in a doctoral degree program.

When you are taking advanced business courses, you will have to be able to concentrate for significant periods of time in order to gain new knowledge and vital research skills. And when you start your capstone, you will have to be able to focus intently on each stage of the process in order to produce the kind of doctoral study or consulting capstone that will earn you a doctorate in business.


According to the Council of Graduate Schools, only 56.6% of students nationwide who begin a doctoral program complete their program within 10 years.2 That fact does not mean you cannot earn your DBA sooner, but it does highlight the need for dedication.

Earning a Doctor of Business Administration requires you to keep at it, day after day, month after month. If you are trying to simultaneously work full time and/or handle family responsibilities, you have to be dedicated enough that you can balance your education with the rest of your obligations. Fortunately, with online learning, finding that balance is more possible than it once was.

When you choose an online DBA program, you will not be required to move to be near a university campus. You can remain right where you are and complete your coursework via the internet. This can help you better manage your responsibilities—as can online education’s flexible scheduling. Instead of taking classes at fixed times during the day, an online DBA program allows you to choose when you attend class. This feature makes it possible to fit a degree program in with your other responsibilities, which can, in turn, help you give your program the dedication it needs.

Flexibility and Writing Ability

The path to earning a doctoral degree is rarely consistent, mostly due to the various capstone projects. There will be periods when you will need to devote a lot of time to research, writing, or preparing to defend your proposal or project. If you elect for the consulting capstone, there may be days when the organization you are studying/helping has a lot of time for you and days when it does not. To successfully complete the capstone, you have to be skilled at adapting to the situation at hand and able to change your schedule and focus to fit the needs of your DBA.

Academic writing can also be a challenge for some people, but online learning can help. The flexible scheduling of your coursework can prepare you to handle the ebbs and flows of your capstone project. Plus, at an online university, many of the resources—like the library and tutorials on research and academic writing—are available 24/7, giving you the ability to concentrate on your online DBA degree whenever you need to. If you want to take your business career further, a DBA can be the perfect choice. And online learning can make that choice possible.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,