Take your passion to the next level with Sonoran Desert institute

Firearms-Specific Online Programs

Sonoran Desert Institute is a DEAC accredited, online school that helps students learn the skills and techniques they’ll need to be successful in the firearms industry.  SDI’s faculty is comprised of professionals with decades of industry experience, and our programs are designed to combine modern learning methods, hands-on training options, and the flexibility of online education.

SDI offers unique online programs to help students achieve their goals:

Associate of Science in Firearms Technology Degree

This 60-credit-hour program is the most comprehensive program at SDI and is one of only a handful of firearms degree programs in the nation.

Explore Program

Certificate in Firearms Technology - Gunsmithing

This 32-credit-hour program gives students an overview of gunsmithing techniques and practices, shooting sports management, and more.

Explore Program

Firearms Education, Evolved

Sonoran Desert Institute was founded in 2000 to provide a flexible education option for students interested in pursuing a career in firearms technology. SDI was approved for training by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education in 2001 and later became accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) in 2004. 

SDI started by offering Gunsmithing as a program, and in 2014, SDI expanded its firearms curriculum by introducing armorer courses. Today, there are over 2,000 students enrolled and SDI focuses on offering a comprehensive approach to curriculum and strives to provide quality service and flexibility to students.

In June 2018, SDI was granted a 5-year renewal of accreditation and in fall of 2018, SDI transitioned to become an employee-owned company (ESOP). SDI takes pride in upholding the standards of multiple regulatory bodies while continuing a student-centric focus on academic quality and superior service to students!

Above and Beyond for Our Students

At SDI, our students are the top priority.  It is our constant goal to exceed the expectations of our students, whether it be through the quality of our curriculum, the support we offer, or the commitment to making school financially attainable with a variety of available funding options.  

We are honored to have been the school of choice for all of our students and are particularly grateful for the service of our military students. Active Duty and Veteran students make up a large percentage of SDI’s student body, and we take pride in our efforts to serve them. Our Military and Veterans Services team works specifically to help military-connected students succeed, while our faculty and staff prioritize communication to ensure that all students feel supported through the programs.

Meet Our Faculty

Driven by Student Success

At SDI, we love to see our students succeed, and we continually look for new ways to set our students and grads up for success. SDI takes pride in upholding the standards of multiple regulatory bodies while continuing a student-centric focus on academic quality and superior service to students! We know that students, grads, and employers value educational offerings they can trust to be of high quality, and we work hard to maintain high regard in the higher education and firearms industries.

There are so many branches of general gunsmithing, and SDI’s coursework and programs allowed me to get my foot in the door to places that I don’t know I’d have been able to otherwise.

Benjamin Turner2017 Associate of Science in Firearms Technology Degree Graduate


To provide students with current, industry-driven, quality education with a focus on specialized programs delivered through online distance education and practical application. SDI is committed to continuous improvement in our instructional processes and the overall student experience. We accomplish this through student and graduate achievement and satisfaction as well as our stakeholder relationships and reputation in the markets we serve.


Students of Sonoran Desert Institute will develop advanced job skills that empower them to be outstanding employees and responsible workplace leaders. Our graduates will make decisions based on sound judgment, technical competency, and an awareness of the connections of their academic discipline, and their community. Each graduate will be committed to improving their workplace knowledge and skills. SDI will accomplish these outcomes by continually improving its curricula, instructional delivery and customer service while successfully building partnerships with students, the community, and the industries it serves.


  • Ensure that each student displays a mastery of the knowledge and skills required of their selected discipline.
  • Demonstrate professional ethics and practice academic integrity.
  • Ensure access for students through open enrollment, multiple entry points, and year-round instruction.
  • Provide innovative instructional practices to meet the needs of diverse learners.
  • Use technology to create effective instruction and increase the learning resources available to each student in order to improve student learning.
  • Use regular assessments to validate student learning and to continually improve the curricula, services, and all other aspects of the Institution.
  • Foster a spirit of innovation and teamwork that produces academic quality, superior service, and convenience for all students.
  • Generate the necessary financial resources to support the Institute’s mission.

Core Values

Continuous Improvement

It’s our goal to get better every day, to positively impact and support our industry, and to motivate others to drive towards continuous improvement in their knowledge, skills, businesses, and lives

Uncompromising Ethics & Integrity

SDI team members will act ethically and with integrity at all times, and we will expect and endorse that value in others

Ownership Mentality

We live an “Own It” life—we believe in taking ownership and accountability for the success of SDI and its students, graduates, and partners every day

Student Achievement

At SDI, we are passionate about fostering student achievement through service and support


We will never stop enhancing the relevance and recognition of SDI as a post-secondary education leader, and those efforts will maintain the relevance of our students, graduates, and partners

Sustainability & Growth

We will ensure the growth and future success of our school, students, and graduates through our commitment to cultivating and sustaining SDI’s mission and vision

Meaningful Relationships

In all we do, we will create, cultivate, and maintain meaningful relationships

Accreditation and Affiliates

Sonoran Desert Institute has demonstrated the ability to meet criteria for academic and consumer rights standards from federal and state agencies as well as non-governmental agencies. These standards ensure quality education through sound financial operations, approved programs of study, qualified instructors, and approved recruitment and admissions policies. Reviews and renewals of accreditation are conducted periodically as required.
Learn more about SDI’s affiliations below.


We are committed to our students’ success by creating unique academic programs that add value to their lives. One of the ways we accomplish this is by developing significant and relevant relationships with industry leaders that gives SDI students access to an ever-expanding network and lots of tangible ways to reap the benefits of being part of the SDI family.

Field Study Partners

It’s our goal to offer the best distance education possible to our students. Exclusive partnerships across the country offer select graduates of our Associate of Science in Firearms Technology Degree program immersive, on-site Field Study opportunities at no additional tuition cost. These invaluable experiences allow select grads to train and network at outstanding firearms companies nationwide. Field Studies are optional and selective, and may serve as a springboard into the industry.

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Resource Guide Partners

Being an SDI student comes with even more benefits than quality education and excellent service. Through partnerships with dozens of industry partners, students (and in some cases, graduates) gain access to exclusive discounts and perks not available to the public.

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Review SDI’s Student consumer information to learn more about SDI’s success indicators, student diversity, facilities information and more.


Get in Touch with SDI


For all questions regarding enrollment, courses, and program information.

Tuition & Funding

For questions on billing, payment plans, tuition balance, and fees.

Course Materials

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Student Services

For questions about schedules, grades, degree progress, and transcripts.


Consider this your official invitation to begin your journey with SDI.