Questions and Answers

Sonoran Desert Institute

Please contact us directly if you do not find the information you are looking for.

Q. Is online education recognized?

A. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes online learning, as do leading educators worldwide. Online education programs and courses are offered by hundreds of top universities and by all branches of the Armed Forces. In fact, last year, more people enrolled in online-delivered courses than entered all colleges and universities as freshmen combined! Plus, in Arizona and other states, our programs are eligible for Workforce Investment Act funding for qualified students. Check with your local WIA office to determine if you are eligible for these programs.

SDI has been continuously accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) since 2004. The DEAC Accrediting Commission is a national accreditor of institutions that primarily offer distance education, and holds recognition by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. SDI is also listed as an accredited school by the U.S. Department of Education. Please see for additional information on DEAC and for a listing of accredited institutions.

In addition, our programs are approved for Veterans’ funding and to participate in the DANTES program.

Q. Are there other schools that have programs similar to SDI?

A.There are a number of distance education schools and programs that are available today. We suggest that if you are comparing programs, then do so on a variety of levels, including state licensing approvals, accreditation from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, program content, the educational objective of the program, and how well the admissions staff responds to and completely answers your questions.

Ask questions and do not enroll in any school until you are comfortable with your choice. And never, ever feel pressured into enrolling.

Q. How much education should I have in order to enroll in Sonoran Desert Institute’s programs and courses?

A. Applicants seeking admission must have earned a high school diploma, a GED, or recognized equivalent. However, SDI does not require industry-specific coursework or training prior to enrollment. Each program is specifically designed for people who want to know more and are willing to put forth a reasonable effort toward their own education and self-improvement. You need no previous experience in the field because your program of study begins with the basics and builds on that foundation with each new lesson.

Q. Is a background check required for enrollment?

A. Each student must complete a statement of eligibility attesting to the fact that they are legally able to own and operate a firearm. This statement is aligned with ATF regulations. Applicants are subject to a background check prior to and/or during their program of study.

Q. Do I need a Federal Firearms License (FFL) to enroll?

A. No.

Q. When do the programs start?

A. SDI offers convenient monthly starts.

Q. Will my other college credits transfer to SDI?

A. SDI does review all previously earned college credits and military training for any applicable credit. The most common application of this credit is toward the general education courses in the degree program.

Q. Are the programs progressive? Do I have to start with one before the other?

A. None of the programs are prerequisites to the others.

Q. What funding options are available?

A. SDI offers no-interest payment plans on all programs. For our active duty service members and retired military, SDI’s Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree and Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate are both approved by the DOD and the VA for a variety of military funding programs. Additionally, eligible students in either program may use Federal Student Aid (FSA). For more specific details, feel free to contact an admissions representative.

Q. Can VA funding be used for all programs?

A. Military benefits can only be used for SDI’s Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree and Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate programs.

Q. Does SDI have any scholarships?

A. Yes. Please review our Scholarships Page.

Q. How much are the programs?

A. Our current tuition rates may be found here.

Q. What if I find it necessary to interrupt my training?

A. If unforeseen circumstances should make it necessary to interrupt your training, SDI may advise a student to withdraw and re-enroll and will provide guidance on readmission. Military students requiring leave for service duties are eligible for certain readmission privileges. SDI’s full Withdrawal policies are available in the official school catalog.

Q. I’ve never taken a course through distance education. How does Sonoran Desert Institute’s learning management system (LMS) work?

A. Sonoran Desert Institute breaks down your course 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. Self-test questions highlight key points, graded assignments and lesson tests reinforce your understanding of concepts, and hands-on projects give you a chance to practice what you’ve learned by using professional, real-world equipment.

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 also provide for more individualized study to help you master the material and be successful!

Q. Do I have to send back the completed projects to get a grade?

A. All labs are yours to keep. To get a grade, completed projects are submitted to your instructor by uploading photos, and when requested, a narrative description and/or video.

Q. What tools will I need to complete the labs?

A. For the majority of labs, most necessary items will be shipped to you. For receiver projects, though, tools needed to complete the receiver will be provided by the student, and can vary based on preference or pricing constraints. Depending upon your project selection you may need a drill press with the appropriate bits or simply a hand drill and/or rotary tool. Items like a vise and lubricants will also be needed. A mill is not necessary, but can be used if you already have one.

Q. How long do I have to complete the program?

A. While there can be some variations, courses are scheduled as follows:

Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree – four, 16-week semesters; Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate – two, 16-week semesters; Armorer’s courses and other stand-alone courses – eight weeks.

Q. Are the programs self-paced?

A. SDI’s courses have an academic activity schedule that students must adhere to for satisfactory academic progress. However, none of the courses have scheduled class times, so you do have the opportunity to work on the days and nights that are convenient for you, as long as you are submitting assignments by their due dates and are adhering to the course’s activity schedule.

Q. Do I need a computer?

A. You will need a computer with internet access to complete the program.

Q. Do I need to be licensed or certified to work in my field of study?

A. Depending on your career field, some states may require formal licensing or certification. Our Student Services staff is here to help you navigate the various requirements in your state. If you do have to comply with your state requirements, we will help you answer questions related to your education for the state regulators. You can check the specific program page on our website for links to regulations in your home state, if applicable.

Q. What kind of credential will I receive upon completion?

A. Graduates of the Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree program will receive a diploma. With all certificate programs, graduates receive a certificate of completion.

Q. Will I have an FFL when I complete the program?

A. No. Applying for an FFL is an individual decision. The Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree and the Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate programs do offer a Shooting Sports Management course designed to introduce students to the practices, rules, and laws that govern the operation of firearms repair and sales businesses so that they can decide what type(s) of FFL would be the best for them.

Q. Will SDI find me a job after I graduate?

A. SDI doesn’t provide individualized career placement. However, students in the Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree and the Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate programs may be able to take advantage of the field study opportunities SDI has put in place. These are designed to provide documented, hands-on experience to enhance the student’s background, providing a competitive advantage when pursuing career opportunities. Please email for eligibility information. SDI does not guarantee job placement for any student.