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The Most Educated City in Every State

24/7 Wall St. logo 24/7 Wall St. 10/22/2015 Thomas C. Frohlich, Michael B. Sauter, Sam Stebbins and Evan Comen

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A little more than 30% of American adults are college educated, a slight increase from a year ago when 29.6% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree. Education levels in the United States are by no means uniform, however, and whether Americans are college educated or not largely depends on where they live. There is a wide range of education levels not just across the country, but also within each state.

Based on recently released educational attainment data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed the level of higher education in every metro area in each state. The nation’s most educated metro area is Boulder, Colorado, where 58% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. The least educated metro is Hanford-Corcoran, California, where just 11.5% of adults are college educated.

The difference in college attainment rates between a state’s most and least educated metro areas can be as high as 36 percentage points. This is the case in Oregon, where 53.5% of adults in Corvallis have a college degree, while just 17.1% of adults in Grants Pass have at least a bachelor’s degree.

While higher education levels can vary considerably, the cities with the highest college attainment rates tended to be in states with relatively high education levels overall. Bachelor’s degree recipients made up at least 40% of the adult population in the most educated city in seven of the 10 most educated states in the country.

With only eight exceptions, education levels in a state’s most educated city exceed the national bachelor's degree attainment rate of 30.1% of U.S. adults. In the states where this is not the case, statewide education levels tend to be low compared to the nation.

To identify the most educated city in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree in every metro area in each state from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey (ACS). The percentage of each area’s employed population working in a particular sector, median household income, poverty rates, and median earnings by education level also came from the ACS. Annual unemployment rates came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These are the most educated cities in each state.

Alabama

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Most educated city: Huntsville

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 35.2%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 88.4%

Median household income: $56,453

Alabama residents are far less likely to have a college degree than most Americans. Alabama’s college attainment rate of 23.5% is lower than in all but six other states and well below the 30.1% of American adults who have at least a college degree. In the Huntsville metro area, however, 35.2% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest educational attainment rate in the state.

Alaska

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Most educated city: Fairbanks

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 34.4%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 95.0%

Median household income: $69,820

No state has a better high school attainment rate than Alaska, where 92.9% of adults have at least a high school diploma. In Fairbanks, the high school attainment rate is even higher, at 95.0%. Similarly, while Alaska has the highest average annual earnings for high school graduates, at $35,963, high school graduates in Fairbanks tend to earn even more, with average earnings of $39,016. As is often the case nationwide, a relatively high high school attainment rate often accompanies a high college attainment rate. More than 34% of adults in Fairbanks have at least a college degree, the highest share of any metro area in the state.

Arizona

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Most educated city: Flagstaff

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 35.2%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 88.7%

Median household income: $49,757

The Arizona population has lower educational attainment than most Americans -- 27.6% of state adults have at least a college degree versus 30.1% of American adults. However, the level of education in Arizona is not evenly distributed. More than 35% of adults have at least a college education in Flagstaff, the state’s most educated city.

After the Arizona Supreme Court ruled last year that education funds had been illegally withheld from the school system, the state bolstered K-12 school funding. At the same time, however, Arizona university budgets were cut by nearly $100 million for fiscal 2016.

Arkansas

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Most educated city: Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 28.6%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 90.4%

Median household income: $48,330

Adults in the Little Rock metro area have higher education levels than in any other metro area in Arkansas. However, Arkansas is one of eight states in which the most educated city has a lower college attainment rate than the national share of 30.1%. Across the state, just 21.4% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, nearly the lowest attainment rate in the country.

California

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Most educated city: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 47.5%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 87.2%

Median household income: $96,481

Residents of the San Jose metro area are more likely to have a college degree than residents in any other metro area in California. While 31.7% of California adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 47.5% of the San Jose area’s adults have a similar level of educational attainment. Higher educational attainment often accompanies higher incomes in an area. Indeed, the typical San Jose household earns $96,481 a year, about $34,500 more than the statewide median household income of $61,933.

Colorado

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Most educated city: Boulder

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 58.0%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 94.3%

Median household income: $71,540

Boulder is the most educated city in one of the most educated states. In Colorado, 38.3% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the second highest collegiate attainment rate nationwide. Boulder’s collegiate attainment rate is even higher, at 58.0%. As is the case nationwide, a high college attainment rate often accompanies an above average high school attainment. In Boulder, 94.3% of area adults have at least a high school diploma, significantly higher than the 86.9% of American adults who do.

Connecticut

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Most educated city: Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 46.7%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 89.8%

Median household income: $85,925

While 38.0% of Connecticut adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a higher share than in all but three other states, residents of the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area have an even higher educational attainment rate. Nearly 47% of metro area adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, a larger share than in any other metro area in the state and the 10th largest share of all U.S. metro areas. Median income for those with a bachelor’s degree in the Bridgeport area is the third highest in the nation. A typical college educated Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area adult earns $70,771 a year -- nearly $10,000 more than the typical college educated Connecticut adult and roughly $20,000 more than the typical college educated American adult.

Delaware

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Most educated city: Dover

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 24.2%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 88.1%

Median household income: $55,227

Since Dover is the only metro area in Delaware, its distinction as the most educated city in the state is not especially remarkable. In fact, Dover’s college attainment rate, at 24.2%, does not exceed the national or the state’s education attainment rates of 30.1% and 30.6%, respectively. As is often the case in less educated areas, incomes among households in the state capital are also lower than they are across the state. While the typical delaware household earns $59,716, Dover’s median household income is only $55,227.

Florida

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Most educated city: Gainesville

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 39.2%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 92.1%

Median household income: $45,353

While the state of Florida as a whole has a below-average share of adults with a bachelor’s degree, the city of Gainesville has one of the highest concentrations of educated adults in the country. Nearly 40% of the North Central Floridian town has a college education. This probably is at least in part due to the presence of the University of Florida. The school, along with UF Health, the university-run hospital, employs close to 40,000 of the metro area’s roughly 273,000 residents.

Georgia

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Most educated city: Athens-Clarke County

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 35.9%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 86.5%

Median household income: $41,761

While Georgia is roughly in line with the national median educational attainment rate for adults, Athens-Clarke County has a comparatively high collegiate attainment rate. Almost 36% of residents in the metro area have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to the 30.1% of adults who do nationally. Those with bachelor’s degrees in the area do not benefit from higher wages in the same way as similarly-educated residents in other parts of the country. Median earnings for someone with a bachelor’s degree is just $31,627 in the metro area, about $19,000 less than the earnings of a typical American with a bachelor’s degree.

Hawaii

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Most educated city: Urban Honolulu

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 32.6%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 91.8%

Median household income: $74,634

Roughly two thirds of Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents live in the Urban Honolulu metro area. In the state’s most populated metro area, 32.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a slightly higher share than the 31.0% of adults in Hawaii with similar educational attainment.

The American Civil Liberties Union recently sued the city of Honolulu for depriving homeless people of food during raids on encampments. However, higher rates of education often accompany better economic outcomes, and despite the media attention centered on the city’s homeless population, Honolulu actually has a smaller share of impoverished residents than both the state and the country. While 15.5% of Americans are living below the poverty line, only 11.4% of Hawaiians do, and an even smaller 9.7% share of the population of the state’s most educated city are living in poverty.

Idaho

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Most educated city: Boise City

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 29.4%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 91.3%

Median household income: $51,826

Idaho is one of just eight states where even the most educated city still has relatively few college-educated adults compared to the nation. While 30.1% of American adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a state-high 29.4% of Boise City adults have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. Just one-quarter of state adults have at least a college education, the 10th lowest college attainment rate compared with other states.

Illinois

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Most educated city: Bloomington

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 41.9%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 94.5%

Median household income: $57,592

In Bloomington, the most educated metro area in Illinois, nearly 42% of adult residents have at least a bachelor’s degree. In the Chicago metro area, the largest in the state and the third largest in the country, 36.1% of residents 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree. The least educated metro area in Illinois is Danville, where the college attainment rate is only 13.8%. While higher college attainment rates tend to lead to lower unemployment rates, Illinois is an exception. Nearly 33% of Illinois adult residents have a bachelor’s degree, while the national college attainment rate is 30.1%. Despite the higher educational attainment rate, the state's unemployment rate of 7.1% is higher than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

Indiana

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Most educated city: Bloomington

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 41.9%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 91.0%

Median household income: $44,963

Statewide, educational attainment in Indiana is well below national levels. Slightly less than a quarter of all Indiana adults have at least a bachelor's degree compared to about 30% of adults nationwide. In Bloomington, however, 41.9% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, much higher than the national rate and the highest of any metro area in the state.

Iowa

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Most educated city: Iowa City

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 48.8%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 95.2%

Median household income: $59,791

Iowa City is home to a larger share of college educated adults than any other metro area in the state. Close to half of all adults in the metro area have at least a bachelor’s degree, a much higher share than the 27.7% of adults across Iowa with similar educational attainment. While educational attainment is higher in Iowa City than it is in the rest of the state, incomes for those with bachelor's degrees are slightly lower than statewide incomes for college-educated adults. The median annual income of those with a bachelor’s degree in Iowa City is $45,445, roughly $1,400 less than the income of a typical Iowan with bachelor’s degree.

Kansas

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Most educated city: Lawrence

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 50.9%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 95.7%

Median household income: $48,565

More than half of all adults in the Lawrence metro area have bachelor’s degrees, a much higher share than the 31.5% of all adults in Kansas with similar educations. Adults in Lawrence are also more likely to have completed high school than their counterparts across the state. While 90.3% of Kansas adults have at least a high school diploma, 95.7% of Lawrence’s adult residents are high school graduates. Despite higher educational attainment, incomes are lower in Lawrence than they are across the state. The typical Lawrence household brings in just $48,565 annually, roughly $4,000 less than the median household income of $52,504 in Kansas.

Kentucky

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Most educated city: Lexington-Fayette

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 35.0%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 89.6%

Median household income: $50,270

Kentucky is the fourth least educated state in the country with only 22.2% of adults having attained a bachelor’s degree. Educational attainment in the Lexington-Fayette metro area, however, is significantly higher than it is across the country. While 30.1% of American adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, 35.0% of adults in the Lexington-Fayette metro area have similar educational attainment.

Higher educational attainment usually accompanies better economic outcomes, but Lexington-Fayette is an exception. Despite a relatively well educated adult population, 18.2% of the metro area’s residents live in poverty, a larger share than the 15.5% of Americans who do.

Louisiana

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Most educated city: New Orleans-Metairie

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 28.9%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 86.3

Median household income: $46,784

Less than 23% of Louisiana adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the lowest attainment rates in the nation. The state’s most educated metro area -- New Orleans-Metairie -- while far more educated than the state population overall, still trails the national college attainment rate. Higher levels of education usually lead to higher incomes, and this is the case in New Orleans, where the typical college-educated area resident earns $46,922 a year, roughly $19,000 more than the New Orleans resident with just a high school diploma.

Maine

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Most educated city: Portland-South Portland

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 38.6%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 93.5%

Median household income: $59,573

The Portland area is home to numerous colleges and universities. This has likely contributed to the metro area’s high college attainment rate of 38.6%, the highest in the state and also well above the national attainment rate of 30.1%. A typical college-educated Maine adult earns $40,695 annually, nearly the lowest median wage for a college educated adult compared with other states. In the Portland area, a bachelor’s degree is slightly more valuable -- the median annual earnings for college educated area residents is $44,839. It is still well below the national median earnings for bachelor degree recipients of $50,450, however.

Maryland

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Most educated city: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 37.7%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 90.3%

Median household income: $71,501

Apart from Delaware and Rhode Island, which each have only a single metro area, Maryland is the only state where the college attainment rate in the most educated city is actually lower than the comparable state rate. Across the state, 38.2% of adults have at least a college degree versus the Baltimore area college attainment rate of 37.7%, the highest of any metro area in Maryland. The D.C. metro area, which has a 49.3% college attainment rate, includes several counties in Maryland. This significantly drives up the state’s concentration of adults with a college education and is likely a reason Maryland’s educational attainment rate is higher than that of Baltimore.

Massachusetts

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Most educated city: Boston-Cambridge-Newton

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 45.2%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 90.8

Median household income: $75,667

Not only is the Boston-Cambridge area the most educated metro in Massachusetts, but also area residents are among the most educated in the country. More than 45% of adults living in the Boston region have at least a bachelor’s degree. Boston proper, one of the few major urban centers in New England, is home to 35 colleges and universities, and the city accounts for over a third of the state’s total college enrollment, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Michigan

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Most educated city: Ann Arbor

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 53.0%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 94.7

Median household income: $62,845

Ann Arbor is the state’s most educated city. A majority of adults living in the metro area have at least a bachelor’s degree. The city is one of just five U.S. metro areas where more than 50% of adults are college-educated. Ann Arbor is home to University of Michigan, one of the larger universities in the country. The presence of such a sizeable university, and the high-skilled jobs that often surround institutions like it, may explain the region’s high educational attainment rate.

Minnesota

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Most educated city: Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 40.0%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 93.2%

Median household income: $69,111

Roughly 87% of American adults have at least a high school diploma. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul Bloomington area, 93.2% of adults have completed at least high school, roughly in line with the comparable state percentage of 92.6%, which itself is the second highest compared to all states. As is usually the case, the high rate of high school completion accompanies an above-average bachelor degree attainment rate in the area. Two in five adults in the Minneapolis region have a at least a college degree, the highest in the state and one of the highest rates nationwide.

Mississippi

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Most educated city: Jackson

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 29.4%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 86.6%

Median household income: $46,967

A typical Mississippi households earns less than $40,000 annually, the lowest compared with other states. The median income of $46,967 among Jackson area households is considerably higher. However, it is still lower than the nationwide median household income of $53,657. Similarly, while 29.4% of Jackson area adults have at least a college education, it is still lower than the national college attainment rate.

Missouri

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Most educated city: Columbia

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 44.7%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 93.5%

Median household income: $50,085

The Missouri population is, on the whole, less educated than Americans nationwide. While about 30% of American adults have a college degree, only 27.5% of adults in Missouri have at least a bachelor’s degree. Columbia, on the other hand, has a much higher share of residents 25 and older with a college education, at 44.7% of adults -- tied for 15th highest among all metro areas in the country.

Montana

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Most educated city: Missoula

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 40.9%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 95.3%

Median household income: $44,289

Home to about one 10th of the state’s population, 40.9% of adults in Missoula have at least a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than in any other metro area in the state.

No state in the country has a lower median income among adults with a bachelor's degree than Montana. While the typical college-educated American makes slightly more than $50,000 a year, the typical college-educated Montana resident makes just over $37,000 annually. And in the state's most educated metro area incomes are even lower. The typical Missoula adult with a bachelor’s degree makes just around $31,000 a year.

Nebraska

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Most educated city: Lincoln

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 35.6%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 92.8%

Median household income: $52,046

A college or university is likely to employ a high number of college-educated people, which also often results in a regional economy with jobs for educated residents. For this reason, it is likely that the presence of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, one of the largest public employers in the state, is one of the major reasons Lincoln is the most educated city in Nebraska. More than 35% of the metropolitan area’s adult population has a bachelor’s degree, compared to just over 30% of the U.S. adult population.

Nevada

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Most educated city: Reno

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 28.9%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 86.9%

Median household income: $52,728

Reno is the most educated city in Nevada, but the metro area’s college attainment rate, at 28.9%, is still lower than the nationwide rate of 30.1%.

Like a few other states, Nevada’s education system is suffering from a “human resource crisis," as Nevada Board of Education President Elaine Wynn said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun. Despite aggressive recruiting efforts from local school districts, roughly 1,000 teacher positions are still vacant throughout the state.

New Hampshire

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Most educated city: Manchester-Nashua

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 35.1%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 91.2%

Median household income: $71,422

The only metro area in the state, Manchester-Nashua is New Hampshire’s most educated metro area by default. Despite the somewhat hollow distinction, educational attainment in Manchester is significantly higher than it is across nation. While 30.1% of Americans have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 35.1% of adults in the Manchester metro area have similar education. With a college attainment rate of 35.0%, education levels across New Hampshire are roughly in line with educational attainment in Manchester-Nashua.

However, incomes are much higher for college educated residents in Manchester. While the typical college educated New Hampshire resident earns slightly less than $52,000 annually, the median income among adults with a bachelor’s degree in Manchester is slightly more than $61,000.

New Jersey

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Most educated city: Trenton

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 41.0%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 86.2%

Median household income: $74,961

Nationwide, 30.1% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. New Jersey is the fifth most educated state in the country, and with a college attainment rate of 41%, Trenton is the most educated city in New Jersey. While Trenton has a higher college attainment rate than the rest of the state, it has a lower high school attainment rate than both New Jersey and the country as a whole. Nevertheless, high college attainment has likely contributed to high-paying jobs in the metropolitan area. The typical household in Trenton makes $74,961 a year, one of the highest median household incomes in the country.

New Mexico

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Most educated city: Santa Fe

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 39.3%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 86.4%

Median household income: $52,809

Only 26.4% of adults in New Mexico have at least a bachelor’s degree, several percentage points lower than the corresponding national attainment rate of 30.1%. Lower levels of educational attainment often come with lower incomes. In New Mexico, 21.3% of state residents live below the poverty line, a significantly larger share than the 15.5% of Americans living in poverty.

In Santa Fe, however, the trends are reversed. More than 39% of adults living in and around the state capital have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the poverty rate in the metro area is 14.2%, lower than both the state and national poverty rates.

New York

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Most educated city: Ithaca

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 52.4%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 94.5%

Median household income: $52,885

More than 52% of adults living in Ithaca have at least a college degree, not just the highest educational attainment rate in the state, but also one of the highest in the nation. In just four other metro areas nationwide a majority of adult residents have a college degree. Ithaca is home to a number of educational institutions, including Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Tompkins County Community College. Together, the three schools bring more than 30,000 students into the city along with numerous college-educated employees.

North Carolina

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Most educated city: Durham-Chapel Hill

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 44.8%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 88.8%

Median household income: $51,988

While North Carolina trails the nation in both high school and college attainment rates, Durham-Chapel Hill surpasses the nation in both measures. Almost 45% of adults in the metropolitan area have at least a bachelor’s degree, significantly higher than the 28.7% and the 30.1% of adults who have similar education across the state and the nation, respectively. Together with Raleigh, the state’s second most educated city, Durham-Chapel Hill forms the Research Triangle, a cluster of cities populated with research universities -- namely UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, and NC State -- and high-tech companies. Research Triangle Park was established in 1959 to stop college graduates from leaving the state by accommodating companies that could provide area residents with high-skill scientific and academic jobs. High levels of education are not uniform throughout the state. In North Carolina’s least educated metro areas, less than 20% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree.

North Dakota

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Most educated city: Fargo

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 36.7%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 94.6%

Median household income: $53,867

Fargo's high school attainment rate is not only the highest in North Dakota, but also one of the highest in the country. Almost 95% of adults in Fargo have at least a high school diploma, significantly higher than the 86.9% of adults who do nationwide. Also, while just 27.4% of adults in North Dakota have at least a bachelor’s degree -- lower than the national college attainment rate of 30.1% -- almost 37% of adults in Fargo do. An educated population is frequently associated with higher incomes. However, in Fargo, the median household income of $53,867 is about $5,200 less than the median household income for the rest of North Dakota. High levels of education may not be as much of a payoff in North Dakota, as the state’s oil boom has provided a great number of high-paying jobs which do not require a college degree.

Ohio

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Most educated city: Columbus

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 34.7%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 90.5%

Median household income: $56,371

The most educated city in Ohio, Columbus, is also home to Ohio State University, the third largest college in the country. While just 26.6% of adults in Ohio have at least a bachelor’s degree -- lower than the national college attainment rate of 30.1% -- almost 35% of adults in Columbus are college-educated. The high school attainment rate is also significantly higher in Columbus than it is nationwide, at 90.5% versus 86.9% nationwide.

Oklahoma

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Most educated city: Oklahoma City

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 28.6%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 88.5%

Median household income: $52,416

Although Oklahoma City is the most educated metro area in Oklahoma, it has a lower college attainment rate than the rest of the country. Just 28.6% of Oklahoma City adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, less than the 30.1% of adults who do nationwide. High school attainment, however, is roughly in line with the national rate. In the metro area, 88.5% of adults have at least a high school diploma, similar to the 86.9% of adults in the rest of the country who do. An educated population frequently has more access to well-paying jobs, and Oklahoma City’s unremarkable college attainment rate may explain its median household income, which at $52,416, is just about $1,000 less than the national median household income of $53,657.

Oregon

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Most educated city: Corvallis

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 53.5%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 95.9%

Median household income: $52,486

Corvallis is the most educated metro area in Oregon as well as one of the most educated regions in the country. A majority of adults in Corvallis have at least a bachelor’s degree, well above the national and state shares, each at around 30% of the respective adult population. Also, Corvallis is one of only five U.S. metro areas where the college attainment rate exceeds 50%. In the state’s least educated metro area -- Grants Pass -- just 17.1% of adults have at least a bachelor's degree, 36.4 percentage points lower than the rate in Corvallis, the widest education gap of any state nationwide

Pennsylvania

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Most educated city: State College

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 40.1%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 94.2%

Median household income: $51,367

The town of State College is home to Pennsylvania State University. While Pennsylvania's college attainment rate is lower than the national rate, State College's rate is significantly higher. More than 40% of State College adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to the 30.1% of nationwide adults who do. The area's high school attainment rate is also particularly high. While 86.9% of American adults have at least a high school diploma, more than 94% of State College adults do -- one of the highest high school attainment rates of any metro area.

Rhode Island

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Most educated city: Providence-Warwick

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 28.8%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 84.6%

Median household income: $55,836

Providence-Warwick is Rhode Island’s most educated city. However, as the only metro area in the state, it is also the state’s least educated city. Providence-Warwick trails behind the rest of Rhode Island and the rest of the country in both high school and college attainment rates. Just 84.6% of Providence-Warwick adults have at least a high school diploma, somewhat lower than the 85.8% of Rhode Island adults and the 86.9% of nationwide adults with a high school diploma. Likewise, just 28.8% of Rhode Island adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, lower than the 30.4% of adults across the state and the 30.1% of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree nationwide.

South Carolina

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Most educated city: Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 35.0%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 91.7%

Median household income: $52,691

The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort metro area is located in the southern tip of South Carolina on the Atlantic coast. While South Carolina trails most states for high school and college attainment, the metro area surpasses the nation in both measures. In the Hilton Head area, 35% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. This is significantly higher than the 30.1% of adults with similar education nationwide. Likewise, 91.7% of adults have at least a high school diploma, much higher than the 86.1% of South Carolinian adults who do, and the 86.9% of adults nationwide with similar education.

South Dakota

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Most educated city: Sioux Falls

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 32.6%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 92.4%

Median household income: $58,849

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s most educated city, 32.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree -- much higher than the state college attainment rate of 27.8% and somewhat higher than the 30.1% of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree nationwide. The typical college graduate in South Dakota makes just $40,316 a year, the second lowest earnings for residents with bachelor’s degrees of any state. In Sioux Falls, earnings are not much higher. A typical bachelor degree recipient makes $41,634 a year in the metro area, about $9,000 less than in the rest of the country. The state also has one of the best high school attainment rates nationwide, and Sioux Falls is no exception. In the metro area, 92.4% of adults have at least a high school diploma, much higher than the national high school attainment rate of 86.9%.

Tennessee

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Most educated city: Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 32.1%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 88.0%

Median household income: $52,640

Just over one-quarter of Tennessee adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the lowest attainment rates in the nation. In the Nashville area, the state’s most educated city, 32.1% of adults are college educated. The higher levels of education has likely contributed to lower poverty and unemployment rates in the region, as the increased qualifications offered by higher education improve access to opportunity. The Nashville area's poverty rate of 15.1% and unemployment rate of 5.2% are each lower than the respective state and national rates.

Texas 

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Most educated city: Austin-Round Rock

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 41.5%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 88.9%

Median household income: $63,603

The Austin-Round Rock area is the most educated metropolitan area in Texas. And with college-educated residents making up 41.5% of area adults, the metro is also one of the most educated regions in the nation. However, the remarkably high level of education in the Austin area also reflects massive inequality in Texas. The state’s least educated metro area, Texarkana, has a corresponding attainment rate of just 15.7%, 25.8 percentage points lower than that of Austin’s. This is one of the largest such education gaps nationwide.

Utah

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Most educated city: Provo-Orem

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 37.1%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 93.7%

Median household income: $60,890

The Provo-Orem metro area is one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation, largely due to a local technology boom. Provo-Orem as well as Salt Lake City to the north is increasingly attracting venture capital investment. A highly educated pool of potential employees is essential for attracting technology companies in need of workers with advanced skills.

While higher levels of education tend to contribute to lower poverty rates, 12.5% of Provo-Orem area residents live in poverty, slightly higher than the state poverty rate of 11.7%. Both rates are still lower than the national poverty rate of 15.5%.

Vermont

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Most educated city: Burlington-South Burlington

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 41.7%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 92.1%

Median household income: $61,947

The Burlington area is the only metro area in Vermont. Despite the lack of competition, however, the area has an especially high level of education. As in the most educated cities in 19 other states, more than two in five adults in the Burlington area have at least a bachelor’s degree. By contrast, 34.9% of Vermont adults and 30.1% of American adults are college-educated. The city’s university system, which includes the University of Vermont Medical Center, formerly Fletcher Allen, likely attracts more individuals with advanced degrees. Cities with universities tend to have highly educated populations, and the University of Vermont, based in Burlington, contributes to the area’s distinction as the most educated in the state.

Virginia

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Most educated city: Charlottesville

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 39.9%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 87.4%

Median household income: $58,189

Nearly 40% of adults living in the Charlottesville metro area have at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest college attainment rate of any urban area in the state. Virginia residents as a whole have only slightly lower education levels, with 36.7% of adults reporting at least a college education. While bachelor degree recipients tend to earn more than their less educated peers, such a degree is less valuable on average in Charlottesville than throughout Virginia, despite the higher levels of education. A typical college educated Charlottesville adult earns $45,979 a year, lower than the median earning for Virginians of $55,797 -- itself higher than the national earnings figure for college educated Americans of $50,450.

Washington

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Most educated city: Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 39.4%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 91.8%

Median household income: $71,273

The Seattle area, like many of the most educated cities across the nation, is home to about a dozen colleges, institutes, and universities. A high concentration of educational institutions likely bolsters the level of education among Seattle residents. Nearly 40% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree in the area.

Voters approved publically funded but privately run schools in 2012. In September this year, however, the Washington Supreme Court overturned the law, ruling charter schools unconstitutional. What this means for the state’s charter schools is in many ways still unresolved.

West Virginia

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Most educated city: Morgantown

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 31.7%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 88.8%

Median household income: $41,924

West Virginia is the least educated state in the nation -- less than one in five adults in the state have at least a bachelor’s degree. Particularly poor education levels in some West Virginia areas drag down the state rate, while some areas have above national average levels of education. Nearly 32% of adults in Morgantown, the state’s most educated metro area, for example, have at least a bachelor’s degree. While Morgantown, like West Virginia as a whole, has a lower median income than the nation as a whole, the earnings of its college-educated adults still exhibit the difference in earnings a degree provides. A typical Cheyenne adult with a bachelor’s degree earns $39,716, while resident 25 and older with less than high school diploma earned a median of just $11,621.

Wisconsin

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Most educated city: Madison

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 44.7%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 94.6%

Median household income: $60,903

The Data Quality Campaign, a national nonprofit organization, recently recognized Madison as one of four school districts across the country that have successfully improved education using test results and other school data. Madison area residents are very well educated, not just compared to the state, but also compared to the country. Nearly 45% of area adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, and nearly 95% have at least a high school diploma, each some of the highest rates nationwide.

Wyoming

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Most educated city: Cheyenne

Pct. with at least bachelor degree: 30.7%

Pct. with at least high school diploma: 92.9%

Median household income: $57,551

The adult population in Cheyenne, Wyoming’s capital and most educated metro area, are about as educated as Americans nationwide. Just over 30% of adults in the city as well as across the country have a college education. In Wyoming, by contrast, 26.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. Cheyenne has a median household of $57,551, which is higher than the national median of $63,657. The region’s high share of educated adults may partially explain its higher earnings. A typical Cheyenne adult with a bachelor’s degree earns $45,205, while resident 25 and older with just high school diploma earned a median of just $26,606.

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