Sonoran Desert Institute Reviews

  • 10 Reviews
  • Scottsdale (AZ)
  • Annual Tuition: $9,440
33% of 10 students said this degree improved their career prospects
50% of 10 students said they would recommend this school to others
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Student & Graduate Reviews

Jeremy Michael
  • Reviewed: 7/11/2021
  • Degree: Gunsmithing
"A joke of a school. Instructors copy and paste feedback for forums and assignments. Instructors don't give any instruction at all, just grade assignments that you are left alone to read directly out of the book. Tools included in the course are cheapest on the market. If you want a piece of paper that says you have a degree this is the place for you. Do not waste your GI Bill! No one will hire someone based off of the material taught by this school. If a grad is hired it is because of knowledge gained from another source."
  • Reviewed: 10/13/2020
  • Degree: Gunsmithing
"I understand why some might have a negative view of the online format but that has nothing to do with the quality of the resources, the tools, and especially the instructors! I am only two classes into the Gunsmith Certificate program and I couldn't be happier. SPEAKING TO ACTIVE DUTY or GI BILL users: this is a great use of Tuition Assistance but it does require you to dip into two months of your GIBILL as the TA Certificate money tops out at 21 credits and the Cert program is 32. So, online learning is different. Everyone can agree? You get out of it what you put into it. I always received prompt feedback from my instructors and while they didn't reply to every post I always understood why I got the grade I got. The rubric was clear and concise and they followed it. The materials they send you (for free, if you are using TA) are awesome! Remember those little OTIS cleaning kits we got that fit in our cargo pocket? I received a suitcase sized cleaning kit from SDI. And in the end, you are building an AR or a 1911...FOR FREE! I mean, forget all that they are teaching you and the great tools and resources you collect over the course of the program. When it is all said and done, they are giving you a firearm! How can you beat that?"
Jason M
  • Reviewed: 7/13/2020
  • Degree: Gunsmithing
"This place is a joke. All you do is watch Youtube video created by others people, not related to SDI that pertain to what the lesson is that week. The course materials are junk. I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know before enrolling. The classroom discussions are stupid and a waste of time. Don't waste your time or money. You can educate yourself a lot better and cheaper. Buy some gunsmithing books and watch online videos."
Joseph a moore
  • Reviewed: 10/30/2019
  • Degree: Gunsmithing
"I really enjoyed the program. The school is continually updating the program. this degree got me into a fantastic federal job. Some of the courses seemed kinda basic for me with years of personal firearms experience and 6 year's of infantry experience. But you have to have the basics to advance to the higher levels. Would definitely recommend this program for armorer's or anyone trying to get into the firearms field."
  • Reviewed: 6/25/2019
  • Degree: Gunsmithing
"For those reading the previous or subsequent reviews, please note that the negative comments were from people who quit the course of instruction after a couple classes. I do not think it acceptable to write a thorough review with such limited knowledge and therefore, it is basically a person complaining who didn't give it their best shot. Bottom line, they quit. If you want to learn from the internet, then do that but you will not walk away with a degree, which in many businesses, IS where customers look for proof of your knowledge. )Which by the way, SDI sends you a very nice, already framed degree, which presents itself well. Ohh ya, and the YouTuber Iraqveteran888 (Eric) was a SDI Instructor and so this person further documents his lack of knowledge. SDI does implement many YouTube video's to assist in teaching the knowledge, skills and abilities within these courses, and to boot, SDI is currently in the process of replacing all of these video's with in-house produced video's. So again, the person speaks without full knowledge of what they are talking about. You may ask, why does this person know so much about SDI...well, I like many attendees. was a person getting out of the military and had no degree. Firearms were something I love to shoot and work on, so I used my GI Bill and COMPLETED the degree program. Being formally trained by the military to be an Instructor/Writer (which I received 3 months of training for, worked as for 3 years and did not earn a degree), I was asked to assist their instructors, which I did for a year. After many suggestions to the curriculum department, I was asked to join them and write content. After joining this department, we rewrote all of the tests and answer keys. For the student who complains about test questions being word for word out of the book has evidently not been an instructor or content writer. Should the wording not be right out of the book, there becomes the window of possibility for many varieties and personal interpretation, which was seen many times by the instructors and writers and was one of the main reasons the tests were rewritten. (I hope that answers the complaint) I mean, who complains about word for word questions and answers? Students are still required to READ (not just word search) the content and then go back and find the answer. Cheaters merely skim content and go right to the test and word search answers. It's not wonder the student didn't get "anything" from the course......he cheated, which is an academic violation. So above we have a quitter and a cheater giving advice on what is honestly a quality program getting better every day. The "people" who have been promoted have been with the school from day one and have what we call WORKED their way up to those positions. Most all SDI Instructors and faculty have Bachelors degree's and the couple who do not again, have been with the school since day one and were grandfathered into keeping their positions. Dr J, the person writing the eloquent complaint about the faculty is showing one of the reasons (In my opinion) of why he was released from the school. Yes, he does have an advanced degree (PhD) but who goes around pretty much demanding people (see peer faculty) call him Doctor. Really? My wife is a college professor with her PhD....and two Masters degrees, and she has never demanded people call her Dr. So if you ready this Dr J, know you were always respected, as we all called you Dr J as requested, but it is a bit demeaning of your peers to always be throwing your credentials in everyone's face, namely your boss. You make the bed you sleep in brother. So for those looking to attend a very good online school, who unlike Penn Foster and AGI, have a structured course where you have weekly assignments and deadlines. Penn Foster advertises 100% self paced, which might be good for some but the majority of students I have taught need that structure as they are naturally procrastinators and will wait until the last minute to do things. So structure and timelines are a good thing. The Instructors comments I can relate to, as when the school was young, it did have some instructors who did not participate much and who did not answer emailed questions. Eric, Iraqveteran8888, was one of them and he no longer works for the school. He was the primary instructor for my first course and I was very upset about it. I wrote student services, who got me answers to my questions.....but my complaints were heard up the chain and in turn changes were made. And I can tell you from personal experience, the Instruction has gotten much bore thorough, they do participate in the weekly discussion and are held to a certain standard now. Again, how do I know this? Well, after working as an employee for SDI for 3 years after my graduation, I left and became a contractor, who takes and audits their classes for content, structure, hours, rigidity and standards. I have done this now going on two years. So when you read a review, please look at the author and what they have accomplished. Look at how and why they are speaking as they are. If a soldier fails out of Ranger School.....or Sniper, or Special Forces.....or even basic will hear every negative they can think of concerning their experience. I have attended all of the above schools, and was even a Special Agent for many years in the Army.....but I left service (20+ years) with no degree. I led muti-agency opertaions (FBI, DEA, ATF, OSI) as a Senior Special agent....with guys who had Doctorate's and Masters degrees, however, not having an advanced degree does not make you stupid or uneducated. While some of these people with advanced degrees were in school, I was overseas defending our country and being away from my family for years at a time (Bosnia, Korea, Afghanistan). So there are my creds and I now DO have a degree, thanks to SDI. So I would and I do recommend SDI, highly. They have passed the same rigorous standards of the DEAC that Penn Foster has, yet offer a real degree. They have an entire faculty dedicated to every aspect of student services, even a librarian and VA representative. They are able to accept active duty Tuition Assistance (TA), as well as veterans GI Bill. Again, I was an actual student and used these services. I know the President well and have spoken to her many times regarding my problems, and experiences. I know the Senior Vice President, who was a Military Police (MP) Officer (with a and is one of the hardest working people on the team. And when I say team, SDI is a well oiled machine that functions on all cylinders. All machines are going to have a problem here and there, but as long as you take care of your machine, it will take care of you. I believe as a student alumni, as a former employee and as a former contractor, that SDI will provide you all that you need to be successful in the world of gunsmithing! Good luck in your search, accept nothing but the best and never quit! Rangers Lead the Way!"
  • Reviewed: 6/14/2019
  • Degree: Gunsmithing
"The only thing I can say about this school is that you will get paid to go if you use your GI bill. DO NOT expect this school to help you in any way in the real world. I hate to say it but I had time left on the GI bill and didn't want to lose the money. I stooped to SDI's level and am doing this strictly for the financial gain. If this is what you are trying to do, then yes go to this school. It is easy and you can sandbag your way through it. If you want to be an actual gunsmith and have a degree on your wall that DOES NOT say "University of YouTube" on it then look elsewhere."
  • Reviewed: 3/23/2019
  • Degree: Gunsmithing
"There is nothing lower then a 1 star for this school 30 years or so of armor experience in the army but these a** clowns dont care. Out of 3 army classes I have done an d this being my 3 rd on line class SDI by far the worst school I have ever seen"
Someone Who Worked At This Online Firearms School
  • Reviewed: 12/20/2018
  • Degree: Gunsmithing
"Trust the reviews on Glassdoor. All of the other reviews. This is still a correspondence school and why it was reaccredited is beyond me. First, this is an academic institution yet no one on the leadership team has a doctorate degree. Someone was promoted to an advanced position with an associate's degree! There are a handful of VPs as one reviewer noted who are young people with no previous higher ed experience and no advanced education related to higher ed. The lack of related education and experience is shocking. The "faculty" pool treat courses like this was a correspondence course. They don't participate in discussions or barely do. They provide little to no feedback. And somehow the "leadership" team thinks this is okay. Perhaps this is why the owners just sold the company? My supervisor pretended to be my best friend because I had the advanced degrees and actual higher ed experience. But the minute I would turn my back, I would get stabbed. The amount of gossiping among such a small amount of employees is really unbelievable. I thought I was going to have a career. What I wound up with was a stress related health condition. And it wasn't worth it."
  • Reviewed: 5/10/2018
  • Degree: Gunsmithing
"Bottom Line Up Front: this school is HORRIBLE and you WILL NOT learn to be a gunsmith by taking these classes. I enrolled in the Associates of Firearms Technology program and took 5 classes (1 full semester). Every class was structured the same: a b.s. discussion board where you commented on some trivial topic, which is fine, but the instructors NEVER join the conversations or give feedback. The quizzes and test questions are so specific that most the time they are word for word from the text book. So you're basically doing a word search to find the answers to everything. The questions were never about general concepts or the most important things to know, they were always some small detail about a particular gun or repair. Finally the WORST part is there is almost NO video resources. Almost everything is simply self-taught by reading the books and articles. So during your labs if you're confused or have a problem; too bad. Want to email the instructor? Good luck, they never respond in a timely manner and my instructors weren't even gunsmiths so most the responses I received were "I'm not sure, I have to look and get back to you". In all five classes I had ZERO lectures from the instructors. NEVER. NOT ONCE. They simply assign the work and you do it all on your own. They don't give advise, pointers, tell you the common mistakes, what to focus on, NOTHING. The RARE video resources (and I'm talking like maybe 2 or 3 videos for the entire class) aren't even produced by the school. They give you links to YOUTUBE, LOL. Don't get me wrong, the YouTube videos are a lot more helpful than their books, but YouTube is FREE, I already watch Hickock45 and IraqVeteran8888, so when you pay lots of money you expect more than just links to YouTube. Seriously, do not go here. I've learned SO MUCH MORE watching YouTube videos on my own time than the minuscule amount I learned from this school after five classes. Gunsmithing is a hands-on skill. You will not learn it from this school. You won't even learn the basics. The instructors are horrible, do zero instructing; simply assigning work and grading, and all of the work is meaningless busy work to show accreditation folks that they assigned x number of quizzes and tests and discussion. As a final note, I have both my Bachelors and Masters degree. I don't say this to mean I'm smarter than anyone else out there (I'm definitely not), only to say that I've been enrolled in several Universities and all were so much better than SDI. I still had a year of eligibility left with my G.I. Bill so I'd figured I'd give it a shot because it sounded fun and wanted to learn a bit more about guns. I didn't expect to become an expert, but I didn't expect it to be such a joke. DO NOT GO HERE."
  • Reviewed: 7/10/2017
  • Degree: Gunsmithing
"Overall I had a very good experience with SDI. The program is completely done online, including the labs. The school sends you all of the necessary books, tools, and items that you will need for each course. You get to keep these books, tools, and supplies as well. For the labs, you use the tools that you were sent and the knowledge gained during the class to complete your project. You take pictures or video of your project as it progresses and then upload those, along with an essay, for your grade in that lab. The program culminates with a weapons build, you get to choose which one you want from 3 different platforms. I would highly recommend this school and program to anyone that's interested in gunsmithing. I had an excellent experience with both."