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Most and Least Educated Cities in America

Joel Anderson
·13 mins read

Education level can play an important role in the quality of life in your area. A larger percentage of people who have a degree or have attended a training program translates to a better workforce and a more vibrant local economy. What’s more, it can also be a sign that the public education system in the area is working well.

GOBankingRates conducted a study to identify the most and least educated cities in America. The study determined what percentage of each age demographic had a degree and then used those numbers to determine which 25 American cities are among the best and worst educated. So, see if your city is among those that really understand how important education is.

Last updated: Sept. 28, 2020

Most Educated Cities

To identify the most educated cities, GOBankingRates took a number of metrics available through the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey — namely percentages of the local population ages 18-24 and 25 and older with less than a high school degree, a high school degree or its equivalent, some college or an associate degree, and a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Please note that each slide only contains data points for the 25 and older demographic. It allows for a clearer comparison of the numbers as they’re all from the same age group, and it accounts for the fact that many people will not have necessarily completed their education before their mid-20s.

25. Charleston, South Carolina

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 17.6%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 25.1%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 52.1%

24. Sunnyvale, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 10.8%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 17.8%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 63.7%

23. Washington, D.C.

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 17.2%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 15.9%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 57.6%

22. Boise, Idaho

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 21.4%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 32.5%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 41.1%

21. Stamford, Connecticut

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 12.5%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 20.8%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 62.2%

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20. Columbia, Maryland

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 12.5%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 20.8%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 62.2%

19. Murfreesboro, Tennessee

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 20.3%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 19.1%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 49.7%

18. Bellevue, Washington

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 9.2%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 18.7%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 67.6%

17. Clarksville, Tennessee

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 28.0%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 38.1%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 26.5%

16. Fremont, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 17.1%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 20.2%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 56.1%

15. San Francisco

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 12.3%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 19.1%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 57.1%

14. Overland Park, Kansas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 12.2%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 24.2%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 60.5%

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13. Boulder, Colorado

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 6.7%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 15.9%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 73.9%

12. Sandy Springs, Georgia

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 13.1%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 18.1%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 63.3%

11. Seattle

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 9.8%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 22.0%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 62.8%

10. Santa Clara, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 13.2%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 20.6%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 58.5%

9. Naperville, Illinois

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 10.1%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 19.1%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 67.8%

8. Irvine, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 8.0%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 19.8%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 68.6%

7. Pittsburgh

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 26.2%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 23.3%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 43.0%

6. Fort Collins, Colorado

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 14.9%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 27.1%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 54.5%

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5. Madison, Wisconsin

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 14.0%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 23.4%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 57.9%

4. Ann Arbor, Michigan

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 7.3%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 14.2%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 75.5%

3. Berkeley, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 6.7%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 16.7%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 73.0%

2. Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 8.7%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 9.0%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 77.4%

1. Arlington, Virginia

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 8.1%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 11.4%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 74.6%

Least Educated Cities

The methodology for the least educated cities is just the inverse of that for the most educated, using the same data set and methodology but focusing on the lowest-scoring cities.

25. Hialeah, Florida

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 35.2%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 20.9%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 14.6%

24. Elizabeth, New Jersey

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 38.2%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 22.5%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 13.2%

23. Escondido, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 22.7%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 31.8%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 23.6%

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22. Fresno, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 22.6%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 32.5%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 21.6%

21. Rialto, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 30.7%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 27.9%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 10.7%

20. Pompano Beach, Florida

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 31.3%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 27.4%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 24.1%

19. Pomona, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 24.3%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 26.7%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 17.8%

18. Hartford, Connecticut

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 33.6%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 23.8%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 16.8%

17. Sunrise Manor, Nevada

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 33.7%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 28.4%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 10.6%

16. Inglewood, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 21.1%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 34.1%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 20.5%

15. Springfield, Massachusetts

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 31.4%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 27.3%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 18.6%

14. Pasadena, Texas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 30.9%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 26.5%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 14.2%

13. Kansas City, Kansas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 32.4%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 28.9%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 17.2%

12. Lehigh Acres, Florida

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 36.9%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 29.3%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 13.6%

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11. San Bernardino, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 28.3%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 28.4%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 11.7%

10. McAllen, Texas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 19.1%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 25.8%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 30.4%

9. Laredo, Texas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 26.4%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 23.0%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 18.9%

8. Palmdale, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 25.3%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 33.5%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 15.0%

7. Oxnard, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 23.0%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 28.7%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 17.2%

6. Santa Ana, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 22.3%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 22.0%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 14.0%

5. Brownsville, Texas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 23.4%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 22.1%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 18.9%

4. El Monte, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 26.7%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 19.5%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 11.7%

3. Salinas, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 22.3%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 23.4%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 13.3%

2. Santa Maria, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 19.7%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 26.5%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 13.4%

1. East Los Angeles, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 23.3%

  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 19.8%

  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 8.3%

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates analyzed every city in America with a population greater than 100,000 according to the 2018 United States Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to find the most and least educated cities in the country. Using the 2018 ACS, GOBankingRates found the following factors for each city: (1) the percent of 18- to 24-year-olds with less than a high school degree; (2) the percent of residents 25 and older with less than a high school degree; (3) the percent of 18- to 24-year-olds with a high school degree or equivalent; (4) the percent of residents 25 and older with a high school degree or equivalent; (5) the percent of 18- to 24-year-olds with some college or an associate’s degree; (6) the percent of residents 25 and older with some college or an Associate’s degree; (7) the percent of 18- to 24-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree or higher; and (8) the percent of residents 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher. These eight factors were then scored and combined to give a final ranking. A lower percentage of residents in categories (1) and (2) and a higher percentage of residents in categories (3) through (8) were considered indicators that a city was more highly educated. In the final calculation of scores, factors (5) and (6) carried half as much weight as other factors and factors (7) and (8) were weighted twice as heavily as other factors. For the cities listed in the final rankings, supplemental data was provided on the unemployment rate, annual median earnings for residents 16 years and older with earnings and the typical home value in August 2020. Unemployment and earnings data were sourced from the 2018 ACS and the typical home value was sourced from Zillow. All research was conducted on and up to date as of Sept. 16, 2020.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Most and Least Educated Cities in America