Experiential learning is widely used in Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) higher education. This research determines whether experiential learning methods in HSEM higher education contribute to student-perceived learning gains in critical thinking skills for complex problems. This descriptive quantitative study piloted the use of the Student Assessment of Learning Gains survey in a graduate HSEM program incorporating extensive experiential opportunities. Key findings concluded that students perceived great gains in their understanding, skills, attitude, and integration of learning/critical thinking as well as a statistically significant strong correlation between student perceptions of gains in
critical thinking and application of knowledge to real-world complex problems and experiential learning. These findings indicate a potential approach for developing research-based practices for instructional
development and curriculum evaluations in this field.