SDI makes it easy to learn and succeed from home

A Flexible Education

SDI is a distance learning institute, which means you can enjoy the full value of an exciting education without having to travel or relocate. The flexibility of our programs combined with our excellence as a distance learning institute ensures that students feel supported throughout their education.

The Basics

Distance Learning Explained

Your educational experience at SDI will be multi-faceted: you’ll read, watch videos, engage with students and qualified instructors, reflect, and then practice what you’ve learned. SDI allows students to demonstrate their mastery of the material in many ways, including:

  • Written assignments
  • Discussion boards
  • Exams and quizzes
  • Audio-visual submissions to present your understanding of the course material

Once you choose an SDI program, we will break down your courses into a series of logical, bite-sized learning sessions, written in clear, everyday language and loaded with diagrams and illustrations that help you actually see what you’re learning. Students will reinforce their in-class education with these activities:

  • Self-test questions
  • Graded assignments
  • Lesson Tests
  • Hands-on projects

But Sonoran Desert Institute programs don’t mean you study by yourself. By using convenient online tools and other means of instructor consultation on your tests, quizzes, and projects, your Sonoran Desert Institute instructor gives you the feedback and advice you need to succeed. Our online programs provide for more individualized study to help you master the material and be successful.

Find the Right Program For You

SDI offers unique paths toward firearms and unmanned technology education. All of SDI’s courses are taught by experienced faculty with coursework tied to real-world industry topics.

Not sure which program is right for you? Click the buttons to learn more about our programs and admissions requirements.


60 Credits / Four 16-Week Semesters Explore Program


32 Credits / Two 16-Week Semesters Explore Program


16 Credits / One 20-Week Semester Explore Program


16 Credits / One 16-Week Semester Explore Program

Technology and Software Requirements

Sufficient technology and Internet access are required to complete online classes at SDI. While tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices may allow for some completion of coursework, they are not guaranteed to support every aspect of learning with SDI. The following hardware and software requirements are provided to assist students to ensure they meet or exceed the minimum standards.

Computer Requirements:

  • OS: Windows 10 or higher; Mac OS X or higher
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM required (8 GB or higher recommended)
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection of 5 Mbps Reliable (10 Mbps or higher recommended)
  • Storage: 200 GB available free space
  • DirectX: Version 9 (latest version recommended)

Recommended Internet Browsers:

  • Chrome: latest version recommended
  • IE: latest version recommended
  • Firefox: latest version recommended
  • Safari: latest version recommended

Required Components/Software:

  • Microsoft Office or equivalent (Open Office, Viewer, etc.)
  • Webcam – resolution: 640 x 480 (1280 x 720 preferred)
  • Flash 12 or latest version
  • PDF Reader

The following MUST be enabled:

  • Cookies
  • Pop-ups (in both internet browser and security software)
  • Java/Javascript


With all firewalls, ensure that you enable uploading of files.

Third-Party Software

Certain SDI courses and exam proctoring may require the installation of third-party software or applets. The system requirements for third-party software should fall within the published specifications above, but please consult the individual software packages to ensure compatibility. Third-Party software technology requirements are subject to change. It is recommended that students access technology requirement information provided for by the vendor for the most up to date information.

Other Specific Requirements or Compatibility:


Proctored exams will be proctored by Proctorio. All proctored exams require the student downloads and installs the Proctorio browser extension. The extension is supported on the following browsers: Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Opera, and Brave.
Browser Extension Compatibility
Technology Compatibility Requirements

Online Classroom

Some workplace IT environments or other public WiFi connections can also restrict the functionality of Online Classroom. Access to content, ability to upload files or file size limitations may apply in these situations. If you are having trouble accessing Online Classroom from your workplace, contact your organization’s IT department.

Canvas IOS and Android Mobile App

Canvas mobile applications are available on both the Apple and Google Play stores. However, Sonoran Desert Institute has not independently verified the availability of all features and functionality in the mobile application. Students are advised to use a supported computer internet browser while accessing the online classroom.

For information on Canvas browser and computer requirements, please reference the following: Browser and Computer Requirements



Different labs and courses require different tools and materials. For a full breakdown of required lab tools click below.


Scheduling and Enrollment

Upon enrollment, a starting point is determined and a schedule for the program is established for each 16-week term or 20-week term. Courses may vary in length, with all courses starting and ending during the term. Courses offered have fixed start and end dates, with weekly requirements for each. Students are expected to progress by completing the weekly activities, including all assignments and exams for each scheduled course, within the designated week.

Keeping Up With Coursework

Once your courses have begun, you’ll access your course materials via the Online Classroom system. Within each course, you’ll have instructor guidance resources, assignments, any applicable written or video content, and access to your grades and fellow students.

Your course syllabus will help you stay on track with your weekly assignment deadlines, and your instructor is available for assistance and guidance for the duration of your course. There are lots of ways to engage with your classmates, and we encourage all of our students to get to know each other in and outside of class.

SDI is committed to ensuring students take personal responsibility for achieving the learning objectives outlined within each course. To assist students in meeting that goal, the Institute requires students to participate by regularly accessing their course(s), substantively interacting with students and instructors through group discussions, and submitting all assignments and exams in a timely fashion.

The purpose of substantive interaction is to promote understanding of topics and subject matter, which will enhance the educational experience for students. Students are encouraged to begin participation in the Discussion Board as soon as possible during each week of the term.

The following actions are considered academic activity, in alignment with Department of Education requirements:

  • Submission of assignment
  • Course-related discussions
  • Taking and/or submission of exam or quiz

Enrollment Status

SDI uses the following credit hour guidelines to determine a student’s enrollment status each term/semester. Please note that certain funding agencies utilize different methods to determine enrollment status, particularly for courses delivered using a modular delivery method. Please refer to specific agency guidelines for eligibility related to enrollment status.

Full-time = 12 credit hours or greater

¾ time = 9 – 11 credit hours

½ time = 6 – 8 credit hours

< ½ time = 5 credit hours or less

Learn more about our policies concerning enrollment, scheduling and distance learning requirements. 

Scheduling Polices

Student Outcomes

SDI prepares students for a variety of careers in the firearms industry. We equip you with the skills you need. You put them to work.


Students earn grades from online quizzes, assignments, and labs completed at home. To get a grade on projects, completed projects are submitted to your instructor by uploading photos, and when requested, a narrative description and/or video.

Sonoran Desert Institute ensures each student displays a mastery of the knowledge and skills required for the student’s selected coursework. In order for SDI to accomplish this, SDI must gauge the progress of the student. Grades from academic assessments within each course are combined to reflect a final course score, which is recorded in the student’s official grade record.

To view more information about grading and grading scale visit our Grading Policy page.

After Graduation

Both SDI programs prepare students for success in the firearms industry. SDI graduates have used their education to start new, exciting careers in the firearms industry or grow in their current careers. From entrepreneurs to industry leaders, we’re proud to be educating the next generations of firearms professionals.* 

Read more about student success stories and outcomes on the SDI Blog.

*SDI does not guarantee job placement.

Read more about our student experiences below.

Student Outcomes

The Next Step

The future is built by those who take action. If you’re ready, we’re ready to put you on a new path.