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.Learn More
Industry-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 and unmanned technology industries. 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
Certificate in Unmanned Technology - Aerial Systems
This 16-credit-hour program provides students with a solid foundation of historical, technical, and operational knowledge about unmanned aircraft systems.Explore Program
Distance Education, Evolved
Sonoran Desert Institute was founded in 2000, and was approved for training by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education in 2001. The Institute was accredited in 2004 by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The DEAC is listed by the United States Department of Education as a recognized institutional accrediting agency for distance education. The DEAC is also recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
At its inception, the Institute offered Gunsmithing as a program, which ultimately became the foundation for SDI’s growth. Key to the success of the Institute is its comprehensive approach to easily understood curriculum, attention to providing quality service to its students, and the flexibility of its instructional model.
In 2012, Sonoran Desert Institute was acquired by the Trade Training Company, LLC. This transfer was approved by DEAC and the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education. In 2014, SDI introduced armorer courses as part of its programs.
Also in 2014, SDI applied to DEAC for Title IV Certification. In 2015, after receiving approval from DEAC, the institute submitted its application to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to offer Pell Grants and Direct Loans to students in the Associate of Science in Firearms Technology. This change was primarily prompted by the Department of Defense’s regulatory change linking eligibility for Active Duty Tuition Assistance to schools approved for Title IV funding. Recognizing the high percentage of military students in our student population, SDI deemed this as an important initiative. SDI began offering Title IV funding to students in January 2016. In January 2018, after receiving approval from Department of Education, SDI also began offering Title IV funding to students in the certificate program.
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!
In January 2022, SDI introduced the School of Unmanned Technology and began to offer the Certificate in Unmanned Technology – Aerial Systems program.
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 higher education.
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 empowering them to be outstanding employees and responsible workplace leaders. These 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 knowledge and skills. Sonoran Desert Institute will accomplish these outcomes by continually improving its curricula, instructional delivery, and customer service, while successfully building partnerships with the students, the community, and the industries it serves.
SDI is committed to the following educational and business purposes:
- 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.
The vision, mission, and purposes of Sonoran Desert Institute are reviewed, appended if necessary, and approved by the SDI leadership annually, or more frequently as needed.
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
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
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
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.
STUDENT CONSUMER INFO
Review SDI’s Student consumer information to learn more about SDI’s success indicators, student diversity, facilities information and more.STUDENT CONSUMER INFO
- Enrollment & Admissions Requirements
- Technology and Equipment Requirements
- Student Identity Verification Policy and Procedures
- Grading Policy
- Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
- Special Grades and Credits
- Academic Activity and Substantive Interaction
- Graduate Employment Opportunities and Practice Requirements
- Disability Services
- Non-Discrimination And Non-Harassment Policy
- Vaccination Policy
- Substance Abuse Policy & Prevention
- Student Grievance Procedures
- Student Code of Conduct
- Academic Integrity
- Copyright Infringement and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing