GOBankingRates

Here Are the Most and Least Educated Cities in America

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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.

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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: Sep. 13, 2021

 

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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.

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25. Fargo, North Dakota

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 20.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 33.4%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 39.9%

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24. Scottsdale, Arizona

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 12.6%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 25.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 58.5%

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23. Clarksville, Tennessee

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 27.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 37.4%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 27.6%

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22. Centennial, Colorado

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 13.6%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 26.5%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 57.4%
Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com

21. Sandy Springs, Georgia

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 12.1%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 17.5%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 65.1%

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20. Bellevue, Washington

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 8.5%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 18.2%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 68.6%
Andrei Stanescu / iStock.com

19. Sunnyvale, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 10%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 17.5%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 65.1%
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18. Washington, District of Columbia

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 16.8%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 15.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 58.6%

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17. Meridian, Idaho

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 21.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 36.7%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 37.2%
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16. Columbia, Maryland

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 12.6%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 20.1%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 62.7%
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15. Boulder, Colorado

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 6.2%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 14.7%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 76%

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14. Overland Park, Kansas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 12.2%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 23.4%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 61.5%
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13. Fremont, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 17.1%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 19.4%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 57%
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12. San Francisco, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 12.1%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 18.3%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 58.1%
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11. Seattle, Washington

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 9.6%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 21.2%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 64.1%
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10. Irvine, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 7.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 19.8%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 68.9%
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9. Santa Clara, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 12.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 20.1%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 59.9%

Pictured: San Jose, California

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8. Naperville, Illinois

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 10.1%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 18.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 68.2%
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7. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 25.5%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 23%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 44.5%
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6. Fort Collins, Colorado

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 15.1%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 26%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 55.5%
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5. Ann Arbor, Michigan

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 7.1%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 14.2%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 75.9%
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4. Madison, Wisconsin

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 14.2%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 23.3%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 57.9%
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3. Berkeley, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 6.3%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 16.3%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 73.9%

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2. Arlington, Virginia

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 7.8%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 11.2%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 75.3%
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1. Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 7.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 8.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 79%
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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.

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25. Grand Prairie, Texas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 27.4%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 29.3%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 23.5%
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24. Bridgeport, Connecticut

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 32.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 24.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 18.8%
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23. Victorville, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 29.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 34.9%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 13%

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22. Springfield, Massachusetts

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 32.5%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 27.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 18.6%
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

21. Elizabeth, New Jersey

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 37.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 22%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 13.5%
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20. Hartford, Connecticut

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 33.2%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 24.4%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 16.9%
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

19. San Bernardino, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 29.3%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 28.2%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 12%
Kit Leong / Shutterstock.com

18. Pomona, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 23.6%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 27.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 18.1%
Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

17. Kansas City, Kansas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 31.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 28.3%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 17.8%

Pictured: Kansas City metropolitan area

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16. Pompano Beach, Florida

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 29.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 27.5%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 25%
Juanmonino / Getty Images/iStockphoto

15. Hialeah, Florida

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 33.7%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 20.4%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 15.6%
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14. Inglewood, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 22.1%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 32.8%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 21.2%
Stan Shebs / Wikimedia Commons

13. Sunrise Manor, Nevada

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 33.3%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 28.8%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 10.6%
Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock.com

12. Pasadena, Texas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 32.2%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 25.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 14.4%

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11. Lehigh Acres, Florida

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 37%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 28.5%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 14.6%
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10. Oxnard, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 24.7%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 27.4%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 18%
©Wikimedia Commons

9. Palmdale, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 26.5%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 32.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 15.5%
Alex Wathen / Flickr.com

8. McAllen, Texas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 19.8%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 26.3%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 30.3%
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

7. Laredo, Texas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 25.3%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 23.9%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 19.4%
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

6. Brownsville, Texas

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 23.9%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 22.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 18.9%
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images/iStockphoto

5. Santa Ana, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 23.1%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 21.6%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 15%
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4. El Monte, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 27.2%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 19.5%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 12.3%
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

3. East Los Angeles, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 23.6%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 20%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 8.7%
Solidago / Getty Images

2. Salinas, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 22.5%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 23.4%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 13.3%
©Shutterstock.com

1. Santa Maria, California

  • 25 and older with a high school diploma: 20.6%
  • 25 and older with some college or an associate degree: 25.8%
  • 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 13.8%

More From GOBankingRates

Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article. 

    Methodology: GOBankingRates analyzed the every city in America with a population greater than 100,000 according to the 2019 United States Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to find the most and least educated cities in the country. Using the 2019 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. All research was conducted on and up to date as of September 7, 2021.