General Policies

Sonoran Desert Institute

Please review and understand our general policies.

For your convenience, use the links below to navigate our General Policies.

Admissions Policy:

The programs offered at Sonoran Desert Institute are postsecondary in nature and require, at a minimum, that all students have a high school diploma, GED, or recognized equivalent. SDI courses are provided in English, and therefore may require proof of English proficiency prior to admission, if the student’s native language is not English.

Admission Requirements

Applicants seeking admission must meet the following admission requirements prior to the start of the first course at SDI:

  • Must have earned a high school diploma, a GED or recognized equivalent*.
  • Must have access to a computer with an Internet connection for the web-based programs and meet the minimum technology, hardware, and software requirements outlined in the catalog.
  • Must have the ability to study in English.
  • Must have the physical and mental ability needed to successfully complete the program.
  • Must meet the eligibility requirements for the selected program of study.
  • For SDI Firearms programs and courses, the following requirements are in place: 
    • Must be eligible to obtain a Federal Firearms License. Due to the nature of the coursework offered, SDI reserves the right to deny enrollment to any individual who is unable to answer “No” to all of the below questions. Additionally, enrollment may be denied if SDI has reasonable cause to believe that an individual’s answer(s) to a question below should be “Yes.”
      • Are you under indictment in any court for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year?
      • Have you been convicted in any court of a crime punishable for a term exceeding one year? You must answer “Yes” for any term of more than one year.
      • Are you a fugitive from justice?
      • Are you an unlawful user, or addicted to, marijuana or a depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug? Please note that according to federal law all marijuana use is considered unlawful. See ATF letter at the following:
      • Have you ever been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces?
      • Are you an illegal alien in the United States?
      • Are you subject to a court order restraining you from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of an intimate partner?
      • Have you been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?
    • Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
    • Applicants must be a minimum of 18 years of age as of the program start date.
    • Applicants will be subject to a background check prior to and/or during their program of study.
    • Students will need to have access to a firearm to complete assignments in some of the coursework.
    • * Equivalents include completion of secondary school through homeschooling as defined by state law, or having earned an equivalent to a US high school diploma at an international high school according to approved Foreign Evaluation services.

      Applicants must submit the following prior to admission:

      • Application for admission, including student signature on the Enrollment Agreement
      • Attestation of earning high school diploma, GED, or recognized equivalent**
      • Copy of front and back of a valid government-issued photo identification (i.e. driver’s license or passport)
      • Official transcripts from all prior institutions attended must be received or proof of request for each is to be submitted prior to start date
      • Statement of Eligibility
      • Code of Conduct
      • Authorization for background check
      • If the student’s native language is not English, proof of English proficiency. Options to provide such evidence include:
      • A high school diploma completed at an accredited/recognized high school where the medium of instruction is English.
      • A minimum score of 500 on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL PBT), or 61 on the Internet Based Test (iBT), a 6.0 on the International English Language Test (IELTS), or 44 on the Pearson Test of English Academic Score Report.

      **SDI may also require, at its discretion, that an applicant or student provide a high school transcript, high school diploma, and/or evidence of passing the GED or state certificate awarded.

      In recognition of the importance of ethical practices in the admissions process, Sonoran Desert Institute subscribes to the Statement of Principles of Good Practice in College Admission and Recruitment, which has been approved by the American Council on Education (ACE) and the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Counselors (AACRAO).

      Right To Deny

      Sonoran Desert Institute does not discriminate in offering access to its educational programs and courses on the basis of age, gender, race, color, national origin, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or disability as outlined in the Disability Services section of the SDI catalog. SDI reserves the right to refuse admission to any applicant if the Institute, in its sole discretion, determines that the applicant does not have the ability to benefit from the Institute’s instruction or that it is in the best interest of the Institute or the applicant to do so.

      Transfer of Credit Policy:

      Credit Transfer Into SDI

      Sonoran Desert Institute may accept transfer of credit for coursework completed at accredited institutions* or coursework evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE) under the following conditions:

      • A student wishing to receive credit for coursework taken at another institution or evaluated by ACE should request official transcripts during the application process to ensure receipt by the Institute within 30 days of the student’s start date.
      • SDI awards transfer credit on a course-by-course basis for courses with equivalent content and value as the corresponding SDI course(s). Generally, undergraduate college-level courses completed at accredited institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) will be eligible for transfer, provided that grades of at least “C” grade are earned and the course is similar in content and scope to work offered at SDI, or fulfills a required General Education category.
      • Students who have earned an Associate or Bachelor degree from an accredited institution, as defined above, will be granted transfer credit to fulfill SDI’s General Education requirements for the Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree program.
      • Proof of academic achievement must be submitted via official transcript from the institution awarding the credit hours.
      • Proof of coursework validated by ACE must be submitted via an official transcript from ACE. A copy of the ACE transcript may be submitted for initial review; however, the official transcript must be requested prior to matriculation in order for the transfer credit to be awarded and the academic plan updated accordingly.
      • Credit by Examination: Sonoran Desert Institute accepts the recommendations of the American Council on Education (ACE) College Credit Recommendation Service as listed in The Guide to Educational Credit by Examination. ACE recommends a credit-granting score of 50 for each CLEP exam. These include Advanced Placement Examinations, College Level Examination Program General Examinations (CLEP), and Excelsior College Examinations (ECEs). Semester hours of credit toward graduation earned on the basis of these tests are granted with a grade of P (Pass), and neither raises nor lowers a student’s grade point average. SDI does not offer testing for credit by examination.
      • Students must complete at least 25 percent of the required credit hours in the enrolled program at Sonoran Desert Institute to earn the credential. Additionally, credits earned after a student’s final term at SDI will generally not be considered for transfer, unless previously approved by the Institute.

      Currently, SDI does not grant credit hours for experiential learning, i.e., life experience, training, or employment.

      * Note to Applicants: Credits must have been earned at an accredited institution. Accredited means accredited by an agency that is recognized by the U. S. Department of Education as an accrediting commission. No exceptions to this will be allowed.

      Credit Transfer Out Of SDI

      Students pursuing other education after attending SDI may request consideration of transfer credit for the courses completed at SDI. Sonoran Desert Institute makes no representation whatsoever concerning the transferability of any credits to any institution. An institution’s accreditation does not guarantee credits earned at the institution will be accepted for transfer by any other institution. Credit transfer is at the sole discretion of the accepting institution. It is the student’s responsibility to confirm with the institution of choice whether or not credits earned at Sonoran Desert Institute will be accepted by the other institution.

      Credit Evaluation Policy

      Sonoran Desert Institute will inquire about the previous education and training of each student. Students are required to submit transcripts from all prior institutions, including all military training, traditional college coursework, and vocational training prior to the start date. Previous transcripts are typically evaluated prior to beginning the program to ensure proper scheduling of necessary coursework with SDI. Failure to submit transcripts prior to the start date may result in cancellation of enrollment, delayed start date, loss of funding eligibility, risk of not receiving credit for prior coursework, and withdrawal from the institution.

      Students may appeal a transfer credit decision by submitting the Transfer of Credit Appeal Form to with supporting documentation. All appeals must be submitted within 30 days from the date of evaluation. Appeals will not be accepted beyond 60 days after the program start date. SDI will respond to the student with a final decision within 14 days of the appeal.

      SDI Learning Process – Scheduling

      Upon enrollment, an entry point is determined and a schedule for the program is established for each 16-week term. Courses may vary in length, with all courses starting and ending during the term. Courses offered for-credit in the School of Firearms Technology 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. SDI’s week is defined as Monday through Sunday. All other programs, including non-credit and for-credit in the other Schools within the Institute, are scheduled in 16-week term increments. These programs do not have specific “attendance” requirements. However, students will be monitored for progression and will be subject to withdrawal for inactivity exceeding 30 consecutive days.

      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

      Academic Activity and Substantive Interaction

      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

      Students are expected to establish participation by demonstrating academic activity within the first week of the course and are subject to course and/or institutional withdrawal or cancellation if there is no activity within 14 calendar days of the course start date. Throughout the term, students must participate in such a way as to ensure successful completion of the course by the course end date. Course acceleration is not permitted. Submitting work prior to its due date (accelerating) and going inactive for 14 calendar days is considered a lack of participation in the course and students are subject to course and/or institutional withdrawal. Bulk assignment submissions after periods of inactivity are not recommended since students are expected to pace with the weekly course guidelines.


      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. One of the measures SDI uses is the scoring of the student’s academic activities from the coursework taken at the Institute. Grades from these academic assessments within each course are combined to reflect a final course score, which is recorded in the student’s official grade record.

      Students requiring grade verification may request a progressive transcript at any point during a program of study from the Student Services Department. Official transcripts will be issued to students when they have met the requirements for program completion. Additional official transcripts may be requested by students as needed. Transcripts will only be released to students in good financial standing with the Institute.

      Grade Scale

      Letter Grade Percentage Grade Points Description
      A+ 97-100 4.0 Pass
      A 92-96 3.9 Pass
      A- 90-91 3.7 Pass
      B+ 86-89 3.5 Pass
      B 82-85 3.3 Pass
      B- 80-81 3.0 Pass
      C+ 76-79 2.5 Pass
      C 72-75 2.3 Pass
      C- 70-71 2.0 Pass
      F Below 70 0.0 Fail
      W n/a n/a Withdrawal
      I n/a n/a Incomplete

      Descriptions of Special Grades and Credits

      Individual Course Withdrawals

      Students may request to withdraw from a specific course up to the 75% point in the course. After the 75% point, students are subject to the final grade based on the course requirements defined in the syllabus.

      W – Course Withdrawals will be treated as credits attempted but not earned for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) purposes.

      I – Incomplete Grades

      Incomplete grades may be granted for extenuating circumstances that prevent a student from completing the necessary coursework. The request must be submitted by the end date of the course before grades are posted. Student must have demonstrated active participation through at least the 75% point in the course and be earning a passing grade.

      Repeat Grades

      Students are expected to repeat any courses in which they did not earn a passing grade. Repeats for grade improvement for passed courses with credit earned are not allowed. The highest (passing) grade replaces failed attempt(s) for CGPA purposes. All attempts are considered for SAP requirements based on pace. Certain funding sources will not cover the cost of repeated coursework. Students repeating courses should consult the Financial Services office to determine eligibility.

      If an approval is granted, an appropriate timeframe for submission of the additional work will be determined on a case-by-case basis, not to extend beyond 2 weeks after the semester end date. The VA certification period will not be extended for the duration of the Incomplete grade, however, if the student begins a new term, students will be accountable for participation in the subsequent semester coursework while completing work for any course with an incomplete grade. Incompletes will not be used in the (SAP) evaluation until a final grade is entered.

      Transfer Credits

      A transcript will reflect coursework evaluated and accepted for transfer when granted for courses applied to the student’s program of study. Transcripts must be submitted and evaluated within the first semester to ensure proper scheduling of necessary coursework with SDI. All transfer credits that are accepted by SDI and applied to the student’s program of study will be treated as both credits attempted and credits earned for SAP pace calculations. Transfer credits are not factored into Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) calculations for SAP or graduation considerations.

      Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

      SDI has adopted a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy aligned with Federal Department of Education regulations to promote the successful completion of each student’s academic degree program.

      Each student’s academic progress will be evaluated at the end of each term/semester using grade and pace standards. For a student to meet the standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) the student must have a cumulative grade point average at the end of etheach term/semester of 2.0 and demonstrate successful completion of at least 67% of courses taken toward the program of study. The pace is designed to ensure completion of the program within the 150% maximum time frame.

      All transfer credits that are accepted by the Institute and applied to the student’s program of study will be treated as both credits attempted and credits earned. Courses with a temporary grade of Incomplete will not be used in the SAP evaluation until a final grade is entered. All attempts for repeated coursework will be treated as credits attempted and the passing grade will replace failed grades in the cumulative grade point average. Courses may not be repeated for credit if the student has already achieved a passing grade. Individual courses from which a student withdraws will be treated as credits attempted but not earned, impacting pace but without impact to the Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA).

      A student who fails to achieve the standards of CGPA and/or Pace under this policy will be placed on one term/semester of Academic Warning. At the completion of the warning period, a student who fails to achieve standards of CGPA and/or Pace is subject to dismissal. If at any point, the student fails to achieve a CGPA or Pace that ensures completion within maximum time frame, a student will be subject to withdrawal in addition to losing eligibility to Title IV funding.

      The Institute will notify the student of any result of an evaluation that may affect funding. This notification will be given within 7 days of any negative determination. During the Academic Warning period, students can receive guidance to assist them in attaining acceptable progression requirements. The Institute may require students to fulfill specific conditions including modifications to course loads or registration in specific courses.

      In extenuating circumstances, the Institute may consider an appeal from a student who fails to achieve SAP after the Academic Warning period. Consideration of such appeal would include determination of the student’s ability to re-establish acceptable progression. Students appealing must file an appeal in writing to the Director of Student Services including the reason why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress and what has changed in the student’s situation that will allow the student to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress at the next evaluation point. Students approved for the appeal will be placed on Academic Probation.

      Academic Breaks

      Students seeking a break in attendance should contact the Student Services department to determine the best way to accommodate a gap in attendance. Such breaks may impact funding eligibility and therefore should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

      Generally speaking, students receiving military benefits are funded on a term-by-term basis. Breaks between terms may be possible, although a student may be treated as a withdrawal and re-enrollment for reporting purposes.

      For students receiving Federal Student Aid (FSA) a student is considered to have withdrawn for Title IV purposes if the student ceases attendance at any point prior to completing the payment period or period of enrollment, unless the school obtains written confirmation from the student at the time of the withdrawal that he or she will attend a module that begins later in the same payment period or period of enrollment. Students should contact the Student Services department to determine eligibility for a break and submit the appropriate written confirmation as needed.

      Incomplete Grades

      Incomplete grades may be granted for extenuating circumstances that prevent a student from completing the necessary coursework. The request must be submitted by the end date of the course before grades are posted. The student must have demonstrated active participation through at least the 75% point in the course and be earning a passing grade.

      If an approval is granted, an appropriate timeframe for submission of the additional work will be determined on a case-by-case basis, not to extend beyond 2 weeks after the semester end date. The VA certification period will not be extended for the duration of the Incomplete grade, however, if the student begins a new term, students will be accountable for participation in the subsequent semester coursework while completing work for any course with an incomplete grade. Incompletes will not be used in the (SAP) evaluation until a final grade is entered.

      Refund for Denial/Cancellation or Withdrawal

      A student is accepted and enrolled in a course/program with the understanding he/she will attend the entire course/program scheduled. Faculty contracts, learning materials, and other Institute resources generate expenses based on that assumption and subsequently create financial obligations that must be shared by the student if he/she withdraws from the Institute. If an applicant is not accepted by the Institute or a student does not complete a course/program, tuition refunds are governed by the policy outlined below.

      General Refund Guidelines

      Denied Admission and Tuition Refund

      An applicant denied admission by the Institute is entitled to a refund of all monies paid. Monies shall be refunded no later than 30 days of the denial date.

      Cancellation and Tuition Refund
      • A student’s notification of cancellation may be conveyed to the institution in any manner.
      • Five Day Cancellation: An applicant who provides notice of cancellation within five calendar days of signing an enrollment agreement is entitled to a refund of all monies paid. All monies will be refunded no later than 30 days of the Institute receiving the notice of cancellation.
      • Other Cancellations: An applicant who wants to cancel his/her enrollment agreement more than five calendar days after signing the enrollment agreement and making an initial payment, but before shipment of learning materials from the Institute, should notify Student Services. Monies will be refunded no later than 30 days of the Institute receiving notice of cancellation.
      • Students are expected to participate in classes weekly. During the initial period of enrollment, students will be subject to cancellation if they do not participate in coursework during the first two weeks. It is recommended that students contact Student Services if they need to delay their start date to avoid cancellation.
      Withdrawal and Tuition Refunds

      SDI is subject to, and must abide by, the refund policies of any branch, agency, or department of the federal government with which it is associated or affiliated. In the event of a conflict between SDI’s Refund Policy and the refund policy of an affiliated federal branch, agency, or department, the federal policy may supersede that of the Institute. If a student is withdrawn and returns within 180 days of the withdrawal date, the terms of this agreement will be reinstated. Refunds are calculated based on the last date of attendance based on academic-related activities. If a refund is due, it will be issued within 30 days of the date of determination of the withdrawal. The tuition refund amount shall be determined based on the table, below. Academic-related activities include:

      • Submission of assignment
      • Course-related discussions
      • Taking and/or submission of exam or quiz
      • Any other activity that is categorized as “academically related”
      Official Withdrawal

      Students wishing to officially withdraw from SDI should notify Student Services. The date of determination for official withdrawals will be the date the student initiates the withdrawal process. For quality improvement and reporting purposes, SDI may request information from the student regarding their decision to withdraw.

      Unofficial Withdrawal

      Students in credit-bearing courses/programs are subject to withdrawal if there is no demonstrated academic participation (attendance) for 14 consecutive days. The date of determination will be no later than the 14th day following the last date of attendance. Student progression will be monitored throughout each term and any adjustments to the student’s enrollment status and/or program status shall be updated no later than 30 days after the term end date.

      Military Deployment Policy

      Students who serve in the United States Armed Forces and who are deployed (or who receive deployment orders) prior to or during a term may be eligible to have their course(s) administratively dropped with no tuition or fee charges for the term. The policy accommodates deployments of up to 24 months in length. Students who are being deployed and who wish to withdraw from the respective term should notify SDI Student Services department as soon as deployment papers are received. Students will be required to submit a copy of orders prior to deployment to ensure eligibility. Upon confirmation of proper documentation, the student’s account will be adjusted as indicated, below.

      • If payment is not yet received, tuition will be forgiven or a tuition credit will be granted if applied within 90 days of return from deployment.
      • If required, a refund will be made to the appropriate party as determined by the Financial Services department.
      Refund Calculation

      Refund calculations will be done for each course the student has started, as determined by academic activities establishing “attendance” in the course. The course length determines the calculation as indicated on the chart shown. Refunds are determined based on actual charges to student, less any applicable discounts or institutional scholarships. When a student is withdrawn, the Institute will retain a percentage of the tuition paid in accordance with the following refund schedule.

      Published Length of Course Percentage of Refundable Tuition After
      1-6 Weeks 1st Week – 70%
      2nd Week – 40%
      3rd Week – 20%
      4th-6th Week – 0%
      7-10 Weeks 1st Week – 80%
      2nd Week – 60%
      3rd Week – 40%
      4th Week – 20%
      5th-10th Week – 0%

      Re-Enrollment Policy

      A former student of Sonoran Desert Institute is subject to enrollment policies and admissions review of the student’s record/history with the Institute. Completion requirements for the student’s program will be determined by the Institute’s current catalog. A student re-enrolling with SDI is responsible for all course/program tuition and fees in addition to any previous outstanding account balance with the Institute. SDI will honor the federal guidelines regarding readmission for service members for students returning after fulfilling service order requirements.

      Voluntary Withdrawals

      A returning student who voluntarily withdrew from the Institute and returns within 180 days from the last date of attendance may be readmitted upon submission of a Request to Resume Program. This may be done via email or by submitting the Request to Resume Program form available from SDI. If a voluntarily withdrawn student chooses to return after 180 days from the last date of attendance, the student may be subject to program modifications including changes to graduation requirements and tuition and fees. The same form may be submitted and if necessary, Student Services will request additional documentation to acknowledge any relevant changes.

      Administrative Withdrawals

      If a student was administratively withdrawn for lack of course participation/attendance, the student should submit a Request to Resume Program via email or by using the SDI form along with an explanation of what has changed that will enable the student to successfully complete the program.

      Dismissal and Academic Disqualification

      All dismissals and academic disqualifications from the Institute are permanent. A student who has been dismissed or academically disqualified from the Institute is not eligible for re-enrollment with SDI.

      Maximum Start Date Changes

      SDI reserves the right to limit the number of times a student may change their start date once admitted to a program of study.

      Generally speaking, a student will be denied admission after changing start dates three times.

      Graduate Employment Opportunities and Practice Requirements:

      Requirements to practice as a gunsmith or in a firearms related industry may require federal and/or state approvals. A student who desires to work in the industry may need to obtain a federal firearms license (FFL).This is required if the student hopes to repair firearms for compensation. A student employed by a business that has an FFL may not be required to obtain an individual FFL. A student who desires to repair only personal firearms is not required to obtain a firearms license (FFL). Because of changes in requirements, the student is advised to regularly review the requirements for the FFL with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). The student can find this information on the ATF website. (

      SDI does not make representation, warranty, or guarantee that successful completion of the course of study will permit the student to obtain licensure or certification. A student, who enrolls in an SDI program in a field for which professional practice requires any type of licensure or certification, is solely responsible for determining and complying with state, local, or professional licensure and certification requirements. The student is also responsible for taking the steps necessary to satisfy those requirements. SDI cannot offer guarantees of job placement, advancement, or continued employment and does not provide job placement services.

      Privacy Policy:

      Sonoran Desert Institute is committed to safeguarding the student’s privacy. This privacy policy applies to the Institute websites and governs data collection and usage at all the Institute sites, services, and offices. In addition, the Institute maintains policies for conforming to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). For more information on SDI’s Privacy Policy as FERPA, please click HERE for our catalog.

      Vaccination Policy

      SDI does not require vaccinations for students prior to enrollment. Certain programs and field study options may have requirements prior to participation.

      Substance Abuse Prevention Policy

      SDI is committed to promoting a drug-free learning experience, maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all students and employees. The use of performance-impairing substances can have an adverse effect on judgment and increase the risk of injuries. In keeping with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 (Public Law 101-226), all students and employees are advised that individuals who violate federal, state, or local laws and/or the Institute’s policies, are subject to disciplinary action and criminal prosecution.

      The possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance or dangerous drugs, or any drug unlawful to possess is a violation of the law and the Institute’s policy. Penalties may include required participation in and completion of appropriate rehabilitation programs in addition to federal, state and local sanctions.

      Students and employees should be aware of the significant psychological and physiological health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and alcohol. Physical addiction, loss of control, withdrawal syndrome, and damage to vital organs can result from drug and alcohol abuse. Additional information regarding the effects, symptoms of overdose and withdrawal, and potential consequences may be found at:

      The following resources are available for assisting with possible problems related to substance abuse:

    • Alcoholics Anonymous –
    • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence –
    • Non-Discrimination & Non-Harassment Policy:

      Sonoran Desert Institute is committed to maintaining a fair and respectful environment for work and learning. Such an atmosphere must be free of intimidation, fear, and retaliation. The Institute prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital or military/veteran status or any other category protected by federal, state, or local law. In keeping with this commitment, the Institute also maintains a strict policy that prohibits sexual harassment, which includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Incidents of discrimination and/or harassment will be met with appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the Institute. In addition, retaliation, in any form, against any person raising a discriminatory or harassment concern will not be tolerated by the Institute.

      Student Code of Conduct:

      A student enrolled at Sonoran Desert Institute has certain responsibilities toward fellow students and the Institute. The student is expected to fulfill those responsibilities by following the SDI Student Code of Conduct for the duration of his/her enrollment. A student’s failure to adhere to one or more of the statements outlined in the Sonoran Desert Institute CATALOG may be grounds for disciplinary action and/or dismissal from the Institute.

      Academic Integrity:

      Academic integrity is a vital part of Sonoran Desert Institute’s foundation and every member of the SDI community is expected to adhere to this principle. Violations of academic integrity include but are not limited to cheating, plagiarism, and any attempt to obtain credit for academic work through fraudulent, deceptive, or dishonest means. For specific examples and definitions, as well as potential disciplinary actions, click HERE.

      Copyright Infringement and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

      A student is responsible for the proper use and storage of all SDI learning materials received or obtained from the Institute and its resources. This includes electronic data as well as printed materials. The student should be aware of copyright laws and potential risks associated with file sharing. Violating copyright laws and/or appropriate file sharing protocols may be grounds for dismissal from the Institute. In addition, violators may be subject to prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

      Copyright Law and Infringement

      Copyright is a form of protection provided by U. S. law (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the copyright law provides the copyright owner exclusive rights to the following:

      • Reproduce the work in copies
      • Prepare derivative works based upon the work
      • Distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
      • Perform the work publicly
      • Display the copyrighted work publicly
      • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission

      Section 501 of the copyright law states that “anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner…is an infringer of the copyright or right of the author.” Generally, under the law, one who engages in any of these activities without obtaining the copyright owner’s permission may be liable for infringement.

      Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

      The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) attempts to address copyright in the digitally networked environment. DMCA addresses a number of significant copyright-related issues. Details on DMCA can be found at the United States Copyright Office website (

      Peer-to-Peer File Sharing (P2P)

      Peer-to-Peer (P2P) technology is a distributed computing software structure that enables individual computers to connect to and communicate directly with other computers. Through this connection, computer users (known as “peers”) can share communications, processing power, and data files. With respect to file sharing specifically, P2P technology allows “decentralized” sharing. Rather than storing files in a central location to which individual computers must connect to retrieve the files, P2P technology enables individual computers to share directly among themselves files stored on the individual computers. A student may face a number of risks when he/she downloads and uses commercial P2P file-sharing software programs. If a student downloads a particular program, he/she could possibly download other software, such as spyware or adware that is bundled with the file sharing program. The user may not understand the configuration of the P2P file-sharing software’s “shared folder” and may inadvertently share sensitive personal files, or Institute files, residing on his/her hard drive. A user also might receive files with viruses and other programs when sharing files using P2P programs. These viruses could impair the operation of his/her personal computer. The student is at risk to receive or redistribute files that may subject him/her to civil or criminal liability under copyright infringement laws. More information about P2P can be found in reports at the Federal Trade Commission website (

      Student Identity Verification Policy and Procedures

      To protect the integrity of the school and its graduates, Sonoran Desert Institute requires that students validate their identity during the admissions process and throughout their program of study. This includes validating identity prior to admittance and completion of periodic proctored quizzes.

      As part of the application process, potential students submit a copy (front and back) of a government issued form of identification. The official student record is created using the name verified on the identification card. Any discrepancies between information on the Application and the evidence of identification are resolved prior to admittance. An email account in the domain and Moodle online classroom account are created and provided to the student with guidelines on usage and password protection. Students access and complete coursework using the assigned individual username and password. Certain courses in all programs require students to complete a proctored assessment. For Associate Degree students, there are four proctored quizzes; for Advanced Certificate students, there are two proctored quizzes.

      Sonoran Desert Institute uses ProctorU to proctor the designated quizzes online. ProctorU is a unique service that allows test-takers to complete quizzes at their convenience, while still ensuring test integrity for institutions. Students login to ProctorU with their unique username and password. Once logged in, they must provide a valid government-issued or other photo identification card to their proctor before taking the timed exam. Test-takers can take quizzes in any secured area with internet access while utilizing almost any computer and webcam. If a student is unable to use a personal webcam for a proctored test with ProctorU, they are encouraged to seek out the use of a computer with webcam capability at a local library, community center, recreation center or a similar facility. Alternate, in-person proctoring options may be approved by the Vice President of Student Affairs if needed.

      Disability Services

      In accordance with Section 504 the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended, SDI prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability. The Institute is committed to making reasonable accommodations to meet the needs of the student with a disability as long as it does not fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity or give rise to an undue financial or administrative burden. Appropriate academic adjustments will be determined based on the student’s specific disability and individual needs. These may include auxiliary aids and services, as well as modifications to academic requirements as necessary to ensure equal educational opportunity. Reasonable accommodations will be granted to students who present appropriate documentation of disability and are otherwise qualified to participate in their specific program of study. Students with disabilities requesting accommodations should send an email to for assistance.

      Technology and Equipment Requirements

      Sufficient technology and Internet access is required to complete online classes at SDI. The following hardware and software requirements are provided to assist students to ensure they meet or exceed the minimum standards. 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.

      Minimum Computer Requirements
      • OS: Windows 7 or higher
      • Mac OS X
      • Memory: 2GB RAM
      • DirectX: Version 9.0c
      • Network: Broadband Internet connection
      • Storage: 120GB available free space
      • Webcam resolution: 640 x 480
      Recommended Computer Requirements:
      • OS: Windows 7 or higher
      • Memory: 4GB RAM
      • Network: Broadband Internet connection
      • Storage: 200GB available free space
      • Webcam resolution: 1280 x 720
      Required Components/Software:
      • MS Word or equivalent
      • Webcam
      • Flash 10 or latest version
      • PDF reader
      • Java
      Recommended Computer Browsers:
      • Chrome 30 (minimum) or latest (recommended)
      • IE 9 (minimum) or latest (recommended)
      • Mozilla 25 (minimum) or latest (recommended)
      • Safari 6 (minimum) or latest (recommended)
      Software Requirements

      Students are expected to submit written assignments using broadly used software such as Microsoft Office or other commonly used document processing tools which will be accessible by SDI faculty and staff.

      Other Operating Systems

      If a student chooses to use any operating system other than Windows Vista, or Windows 7 or 8, SDI cannot guarantee compatibility to the Learning Management System.

      Third-Party Software

      Certain SDI courses and exam proctoring may require the installation of third-party software. The system requirements for third-party software should fall within the published specifications above, but please consult the individual software packages to ensure compatibility.

      Tools and Equipment

      Tools and equipment are provided by the Institute and included in the total program cost. Students in the School of Firearms Technology may need to have access to a firearm and a drill press, as noted for each specific program.

      Student Grievance Procedure

      For information on SDI’s Student Grievance procedure, please click here.

      For a complete listing of Sonoran Desert Institute’s policies, view our catalog here.