Most Educated City in Each State

October 11, 2016 by Sam Stebbins

Three Female Students Talking in a Library
Source: Thinkstock
Earning a college degree is one of the best ways to open up opportunities, especially to higher-paying jobs. The economic benefits of a well-educated population are also far-reaching.

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 60.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. The least educated metro is Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Arizona, where just 11.9% of adults are college educated.

The difference in college attainment rates between a state’s most and least educated metro areas can be greater than 40 percentage points. This is the case in Oregon, where 55.1% of adults in Corvallis have a college degree, while just 14.0% of adults in Grants Pass have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Click here to see the most educated city in each state.

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

A college education usually opens the door to higher-paying job opportunities. Further, because children of parents with college degrees are more likely to go to college themselves, the financial benefits of higher education can span multiple generations. For these reasons, populations of the most educated cities frequently also report higher incomes. Looking at the most educated metro area in each state, the median household income in only 36 of these areas is higher than the respective statewide median income.

Many of these cities are home to several colleges, major universities, and research institutions. Because college students by definition do not have a college degree, student populations only raise the bachelor’s degree attainment rate by the portion that remains in the area after graduation — either for graduate programs or for work.

The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program has studied the relationship between the presence of a university and a city’s economy. In a study published last year, economist Jonathan Rothwell cited the fact that 70% of students graduating from colleges in the New York City area remain in the region. The economic effects of Stanford on the San Jose area, or the University of Washington on the Seattle area, or MIT on the Boston region are similarly related to alumni remaining in these metros. Also, innovative companies that require highly educated workers are drawn to areas with these universities, and provide incentives for the college graduates to remain.

To identify the most educated cities in every state, 24/7 Wall St. ranked the percentages of metro area adults who have completed at least a bachelor’s degree in every state. The college attainment rate, along with poverty, income, and high school attainment rates, as well as the percentage of households receiving SNAP benefits for metro areas and for states all came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey. Shares of each metro’s workforce employed in particular industries came from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, a program published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of post-secondary institutions in each metropolitan area came from a list compiled by the U.S. Department of Education. Post-secondary institutions include four-year universities and colleges, as well as technical institutes and trade academies. The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area, which spans the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia was excluded from our ranking.

These are the most educated cities in every state.

1. Alabama
> Most educated city: Huntsville
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 38.1%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 11
> Median household income: $57,792

Only 24.2% of adults in Alabama have earned a four-year college degree, well below the 30.6% of American adults with similar educational attainment. In the Huntsville metro area, 38.1% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, making the metro area the most educated in the state.

The metro area has nearly a dozen postsecondary institutions, which include major universities as well as technical institutes and trade schools. Alabama A&M University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, each located within the metro area, enroll a combined total of over 10,000 students. Students who remain after graduation, graduate students, and college- educated faculty all contribute to the high attainment rate in the area.

2. Alaska
> Most educated city: Fairbanks
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 34.5%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 2
> Median household income: $72,975

In Fairbanks, Alaska, 34.5% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than the statewide 29.7% college attainment rate. Post-secondary degrees can increase earning power and reduce the likelihood of poverty. Only 7.4% of Fairbanks residents live in poverty, one of the lowest poverty rates of any U.S. metro area and considerably lower than the state’s 10.3% poverty rate.

3. Arizona
> Most educated city: Flagstaff
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 33.1%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 4
> Median household income: $53,152

About one third of all adults in the Flagstaff metro area have at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest college attainment rate of all metro areas in the state. Given the fact that college-educated adults are less likely to live in poverty than those with lower educational attainment, Flagstaff’s poverty rate is relatively high. Flagstaff’s poverty rate of 20% is higher both the state and national rates.

4. Arkansas
> Most educated city: Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 30.8%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 11
> Median household income: $50,788

The percentage of adults in the Fayetteville metro area with at least a bachelor’s degree, at 30.8%, is the highest of any metro in Arkansas. Over 22,000 undergraduates attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Undergraduates who choose to remain in the area, nearly all of the school’s more than 1,300 faculty, as well as graduate students enrolled in the school’s masters and doctoral programs, add to the pool of college-educated area adults. Such large research universities also tend to attract companies that require workers with bachelor’s degrees.

5. California
> Most educated city: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 48.7%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 32
> Median household income: $101,980

Stanford University — one of 32 post-secondary institutions based in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara region — has become one of the nation’s top computer science and engineering schools. This is due at least in part to the proximity to Silicon Valley, which not only draws highly educated individuals to the region but also provides opportunities to college students in the area. The metro has the highest concentration of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree in California and the sixth highest share in the country. Residents are also quite wealthy. More than 20% of area households earn over $200,000 a year, the largest share of high earners in the country.

6. Colorado
> Most educated city: Boulder
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 60.6%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 9
> Median household income: $72,009

The Boulder metro area has the highest college attainment rate not just in Colorado but of any U.S. metro area. The 60.6% share of area adults with at least a bachelor’s degree is nearly double the national share and well above Colorado’s 39.2% bachelor’s attainment rate.

The well-educated population has likely helped shape the area’s economy. In Boulder, 18.0% of the workforce is employed in professional and technical services, more than double the corresponding national proportion. Higher educational attainment and higher skilled jobs often lead to higher incomes. In Boulder, close to 12% of households earn at least $200,000 annually, versus the national proportion of 5.8%.

7. Connecticut
> Most educated city: Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 46.3%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 20
> Median household income: $86,414

As is the case in many relatively well-educated metro areas, the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area is home to a number of higher education institutions, including Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University, and the University of Bridgeport. The area also has a higher concentration of jobs in industries that require higher educational attainment. A larger than average share of the metro area’s workforce is employed in the information, finance and insurance, professional and technical services, and management sectors. The metro area’s 46.3% college attainment rate is even higher than the already high corresponding statewide rate of 38.3%.

8. Delaware
> Most educated city: Dover
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 21.3%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 5
> Median household income: $56,778

Delaware’s only metro area is by default the most educated in the state. However, only 21.3% of adults in Dover have at least a bachelor’s degree, a much smaller share the 30.6% of adults nationwide with a four-year college degree. Educational attainment has a direct relationship with income, and just as educational attainment is lower in Dover than across Delaware, so are area incomes. The typical metro area household earns $56,778 annually, roughly $4,500 less than the statewide median income.

9. Florida
> Most educated city: Gainesville
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 42.0%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 9
> Median household income: $46,949

Florida’s 28.4% share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree trails that of most other states. However, in the Gainesville metro area, 42.0% of adults have earned at least a four-year degree, this highest share in Florida and among the highest in the country.

The metro area is home to the University of Florida, a school with nearly 50,000 students. The proportion of students who stay in the area after graduation, the school’s graduate students, and its college-educated staff all add to the area’s pool of educated residents. As a major research institution, the university also attracts companies that require educated workers to the area.

10. Georgia
> Most educated city: Athens-Clarke County
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 38.0%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 3
> Median household income: $38,643

Based in Athens, the University of Georgia enrolls roughly 27,500 undergraduate students. Many university graduates likely remain in the area, as there is a far higher concentration of college graduates in the Athens metro area than across the state as a whole.

While incomes tend to be higher in areas with larger shares of four-year degree holders, Athens is a notable exception. The typical area household earns only $38,643 annually, roughly $12,600 less than the statewide median income.

11. Hawaii
> Most educated city: Urban Honolulu
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 33.2%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 22
> Median household income: $77,273

Nearly a third of all adults in Urban Honolulu have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, slightly more than the statewide 31.4% share and a far higher share than in the state’s only other metro area, Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, where only about a quarter of adults have at least a four-year degree. The discrepancy is likely explained by the concentration of postsecondary institutions in Honolulu. While the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina metro area has only one college, Urban Honolulu has 22, including the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the largest in the state.

The median household income of $73,486 a year in Hawaii is the second highest in the country. Incomes are even higher in the Honolulu metro area, where the typical household earns $77,273 a year.

12. Idaho
> Most educated city: Boise City
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 30.1%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 21
> Median household income: $51,925

Boise is home to Boise State, one of the largest universities in Idaho, which has a student population of over 20,000. As in many cities, the presence of the University and other postsecondary institutions is closely tied with the area’s educational attainment rate and relative economic prosperity.

Over 30% of adults in the Boise City metro area have at least a bachelor’s degree. While the median household income in Boise of $51,925 is lower than the national median, it is higher than the typical household income across the state.

13. Illinois
> Most educated city: Bloomington
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 44.0%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 5
> Median household income: $63,842

Bloomington is the most educated city in Illinois and one of the most educated in the country. Of all metro area residents 25 and older, 95.1% have a high school diploma and 44.0% have at least a bachelor’s degree, the ninth and 15th highest shares of all U.S. metros respectively.

With their corporate headquarters located in Bloomington, State Farm Insurance is a major employer in the area, and a many jobs with the company require a college degree. Not surprisingly, 23.9% of the metro area’s workforce is employed in the finance and insurance sector. By contrast, only 4.8% of U.S. workers are employed in finance and insurance.

14. Indiana
> Most educated city: Bloomington
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 40.4%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 2
> Median household income: $44,376

Only 24.9% of adults in Indiana have a bachelor’s degree, one of the lowest attainment rates of any state. In the Bloomington metro area, however, 40.4% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the largest share in the state and nearly 10 percentage points higher than the national attainment percentage.

Bloomington is home to Indiana University’s flagship campus. There are approximately 48,500 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at the school. The students who over the years have remained in Bloomington area help bolster the college attainment rate. Also, as a major research institution, IU has attracted businesses that often require highly educated workers to the area.

15. Iowa
> Most educated city: Ames
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 51.6%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 2
> Median household income: $50,811

Ames, Iowa is one of only five U.S. metro areas out of 381 where more than half of all adults hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Like many highly educated area, Ames is home to a major research institution and university system. Over 30,000 undergraduate students attend Iowa State University. The campus also houses among other programs the U.S. Department of Energy research center Ames Lab.

Despite higher educational attainment, the poverty rate in Ames is relatively high. Slightly more than one-fifth of all area residents live in poverty, much higher than the 12.2% of people in Iowa who live in poverty, itself one of the lower poverty rates compared with other states.

16. Kansas
> Most educated city: Lawrence
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 47.0%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 6
> Median household income: $52,964

Lawrence, Kansas has the highest share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree of any metro area in the state, and the ninth highest share of all U.S. metro areas. The well-educated population can be partially explained by the presence of the University of Kansas, where more than 19,000 undergraduate students are enrolled.

The Lawrence metro area’s job market is likely shaped by residents’ educational attainment. Jobs in the professional and technical services sector require more than a high school diploma, and in Lawrence, 10.7% of the workforce is employed in the sector. By contrast, 7.3% of the U.S. workforce is employed in professional and technical services.

17. Kentucky
> Most educated city: Lexington-Fayette
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 35.5%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 19
> Median household income: $53,117

Adults across Kentucky, 23.2% of whom have at least a bachelor’s degree, are less likely than adults across the nation to have a college degree. In the state’s most educated metro area, Lexington-Fayette, 35.5% of adults have at least a college degree, in contrast with the national college attainment rate of 30.6%. As is the case in many of the nation’s most educated metro areas, Lexington-Fayette is home to a major research institution that has likely attracted businesses to the area. Nearly 23,000 undergraduates are enrolled at The University of Kentucky.

18. Louisiana
> Most educated city: New Orleans-Metairie
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 28.6%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 31
> Median household income: $48,343

The New Orleans metro area is home to a higher concentration of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree than any other metro in the state. The area’s share of four-year degree holders, though large relative to the state, is relatively small relative to the country as a whole. Only 28.6% of area adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, well above the 23.2% statewide share but slightly below the 30.6% national share. A higher share of adults with at least bachelor’s degree partly attributed to the number of colleges and graduate universities in the area. The New Orleans metro area is home to Tulane University and several others with graduate degree programs. Not only do the graduate students add to the pool of college educated adults, but the research programs often attract businesses that require highly educated workers to the area.

19. Maine
> Most educated city: Portland-South Portland
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 39.6%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 17
> Median household income: $62,074

Nearly 40% of adults in the Portland metro area have at least a bachelor’s degree, a far larger share than the roughly 30% of Maine residents with similar educational attainment. Not surprisingly, incomes are far higher in the Portland area than they are across the state as a whole. The typical Portland area household earns $62,074 a year, well above the national median of $55,775.

20. Maryland
> Most educated city: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 38.6%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 50
> Median household income: $72,520

While the percentage of adults in the Baltimore metro area who have at least a bachelor’s degree of 38.6% is the highest of any metro area in the state, it is slightly lower than the corresponding statewide attainment rate of 38.8%. Except for states with only a single metro area, Maryland is the only state where this is the case. The proximity of Washington D.C., where many of the most highly educated Maryland residents are employed, likely skews Maryland’s overall educational attainment higher.

21. Massachusetts
> Most educated city: Boston-Cambridge-Newton
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 46.0%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 134
> Median household income: $78,800

The most educated state in the country, 41.5% of Massachusetts residents have a college education. Bachelor degrees are even more common in the Boston metro area, where 46.0% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree.

The high share of college educated adults in Boston is due largely to the high concentration of higher education institutions. There are over 100 accredited post-secondary schools in the metro area. Many of them, including MIT, Harvard, and Boston University, have extensive graduate degree programs and large research programs — both help add students and attract workers to the pool of college educated individuals in the area.

22. Michigan
> Most educated city: Ann Arbor
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 55.2%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 8
> Median household income: $61,977

According to the University of Michigan, 40% of its 26,000 employees are Ann Arbor residents. Many of these employees have a college degree. The university’s annual research budget of $466 million is also one of the nation’s largest. As a major research institution, the university drives up the area’s college attainment rate by attracting businesses and research organizations who require educated employees. The city is not only the most educated in Michigan but one of only a handful of U.S. metro areas where more than half of adults have at least a college degree.

23. Minnesota
> Most educated city: Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 40.3%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 88
> Median household income: $71,008

Slightly more than two in every five adults in the Twin Cities metro area have at least a bachelor’s degree, far more than in any of Minnesota’s four other metro areas.

Incomes are relatively high across Minnesota, and they are even higher in the Minneapolis metro area. The typical area household earns $71,008 annually, about $7,500 more than the statewide median income and roughly $15,200 more than the comparable national figure.

24. Mississippi
> Most educated city: Jackson
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 29.0%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 22
> Median household income: $46,757

Just 20.8% of adults across Mississippi have a college education, the second-lowest such percentage of any state in the country. The 29% share of adults in the Jackson metro area with at least a bachelor’s degree is considerably larger, but still lower than the 30.6% national college attainment rate.

The higher concentration of four-year college graduates in Jackson largely explains the relatively high incomes in the area. The typical Jackson household earns $46,757 a year, considerably more than the median annual household income across Mississippi of $40,593 — the lowest compared with states.

25. Missouri
> Most educated city: Columbia
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 48.5%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 7
> Median household income: $50,520

The bachelor’s degree attainment rate in Columbia is far higher than in any other metro area in the state. It is also higher than all but six U.S. metros. Many college educated adults in the area are likely either graduates of or involved with the University of Missouri in some capacity. Nearly 6,500 graduate students attend and roughly 13,000 workers are employed at the university.

26. Montana
> Most educated city: Missoula
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 42.9%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 2
> Median household income: $42,815

Montana’s 30.6% bachelor’s degree attainment rate is inline with the national percentage. Of the state’s three metro areas, Missoula is area with a higher concentration of adults with at least a four-year college diploma.

Despite the relatively large share of college-educated adults, incomes are relatively low in Missoula. The typical metro area household earns only $42,815 annually, less than the corresponding figure in the state as a whole and nationwide.

27. Nebraska
> Most educated city: Lincoln
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 36.7%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 13
> Median household income: $54,002

Lincoln’s 36.7% bachelor’s degree attainment rate is well above the 30.2% statewide rate and those of the two other metro areas in the state. The area is home to the University of Nebraska, a major research institution and employer.

The area’s finance and insurance sector employs 8.0% of all workers in Lincoln, far more than the 4.8% national average share. Many companies operating in the industry require highly educated workers.

28. Nevada
> Most educated city: Reno
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 29.6%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 13
> Median household income: $56,611

Nevada is one of only seven states where adults of the most educated metro are less likely to have a college degree than adults nationwide. Compared with most areas, Reno’s economy is dominated by the service sector, in which workers typically do not require a college degree. Like Nevada as a whole, the entertainment industry employs an above average proportion of the workforce in Reno. Of area workers, 17.1% work in accommodation and food services, and 3.0% work in arts, entertainment and recreation — each well above the corresponding national percentages.

29. New Hampshire
> Most educated city: Manchester-Nashua
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 36.9%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 17
> Median household income: $74,323

The only metropolitan statistical area in the state, Manchester-Nashua is also necessarily the most educated metro area. The area’s 36.9% bachelor’s degree attainment rate is higher than the 35.7% statewide and 30.6% national percentages.

Obtaining a college degree is one relatively reliable way to increase earning potential. In Manchester-Nashua, where college attainment is high, incomes are also high. The typical metro area household earns $74,323 a year, about $4,000 more than the median income statewide and roughly $18,500 more than the typical American household.

30. New Jersey
> Most educated city: Trenton
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 38.1%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 11
> Median household income: $72,417

As is generally the case among highly educated populations, residents of Trenton — New Jersey’s most educated city — are relatively wealthy. Close to 40% of adults in Trenton have a bachelor’s degree or more versus the statewide percentage of 37.6%, itself one of the highest educational attainment rates compared with other states. Similarly, the typical household in Trenton earns $72,417 annually, well above both the state and national median household incomes. Trenton’s professional and business services sector, which more than most industries requires workers with college level education, accounts for 12.6% of area employment. By contrast, the sector employs 7.3% of workers nationwide.

31. New Mexico
> Most educated city: Santa Fe
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 40.9%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 7
> Median household income: $55,676

More than two in every five adults in Santa Fe have at least a college diploma, the highest proportion in New Mexico. College attainment in the city is exceptionally high compared with the percentage of adults statewide who have at least a college degree, which at 26.5% is one of the lower rates nationwide. Santa Fe is home to several large research institutions, which typically employ highly educated individuals. The Los Alamos National Laboratory, which employs more than 10,000 people, is located less than an hour away from downtown Santa Fe.

32. New York
> Most educated city: Ithaca
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 54.9%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 4
> Median household income: $58,084

Home to Ithaca College and Cornell University, Ithaca has a higher concentration of college graduates than any of the dozen metro areas in the Empire State. Located within the city proper, Ithaca College employs more than 700 faculty members, and Cornell employs approximately 1,650 faculty and nearly 5,300 people are enrolled as graduate students, all of whom are almost certainly bachelor’s degree holders.

An education hub, 54.9% of adults in Ithaca have a bachelor’s degree, a higher share than in all but three other U.S. metro areas.

33. North Carolina
> Most educated city: Durham-Chapel Hill
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 45.1%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 17
> Median household income: $54,160

With slightly more than 45% of adults with at least bachelor’s degree level of education, the Durham-Chapel Hill area is the most educated urban region in North Carolina. The presence of a major university tends to drive up educational attainment in an area. Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are both located in the region.

34. North Dakota
> Most educated city: Fargo
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 34.5%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 10
> Median household income: $56,051

Fargo’s relatively well-educated population likely has greater access to higher-paying jobs than area residents with fewer qualifications. However, the city’s median household income of $56,051 a year, while higher than the national median, is lower than the typical household income statewide. The discrepancy is likely due to the dramatic surge in oil job wages — oil jobs often do not require more than a high school diploma.

35. Ohio
> Most educated city: Columbus
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 35.1%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 59
> Median household income: $58,192

Just over one in four Ohio adults have a bachelor’s degree. In Columbus, the most educated metro area in the state, well over a third of adults have completed a four-year degree. Managerial positions often require education beyond high school. In Columbus, 4.5% of the labor force works in management, the largest share of any metro area in the state and considerably more than the 1.9% of the U.S. workforce in management positions. This could partially explain the relatively high household income in the area. At $58,192 the household median income is slightly higher than the national median and well above the median income for households across the state of $51,075.

36. Oklahoma
> Most educated city: Oklahoma City
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 29.3%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 42
> Median household income: $52,221

Fewer than 25% adults in Oklahoma have a bachelor’s degree, one of the smallest shares of any state. Though Oklahoma City is the most educated metro area in state, the 29.3% share of area adults with at least a bachelor’s degree is still slightly lower than the 30.6% share of American adults with similar educational attainment.

Higher educational attainment often leads to higher incomes. Though the typical Oklahoma City household earns nearly $3,700 more than the typical household statewide, median earnings in the metro area fall about $3,600 shy of the median earnings nationwide.

37. Oregon
> Most educated city: Corvallis
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 55.1%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 2
> Median household income: $52,852

Slightly more than half of all adults in Corvallis have at least a bachelor’s degree, the largest share in Oregon and the third highest share in the United States. The metro area is home to Oregon State University, a major research institution where thousands of undergraduate and graduate level students are enrolled.

The metro area’s job market also demands a highly educated workforce. The University is the leading employer in the city proper. Other major employers in the area include Hewlett-Packard and Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.

38. Pennsylvania
> Most educated city: State College
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 43.0%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 5
> Median household income: $56,337

Only 29.7% of adults in Pennsylvania have completed a bachelor’s degree, in stark contrast to the State College metro area, where 43.0% of adults have completed at least a four-year degree. The Home to Penn State and several other academic institutions, the area’s economy depends heavily on its higher education system. Penn State is a major research institution, which helps attract businesses to the area. Also, the over 14,000 graduate students and 6,400 faculty help boost the pool of college educated adults in State College.

39. Rhode Island
> Most educated city: Providence-Warwick
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 30.6%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 37
> Median household income: $58,965

As the only metro area in the state, Providence-Warwick is also the most educated metro area by default. However, the 30.6% share of adults in the Providence-Warwick area with at least a bachelor’s degree is actually smaller than the 32.7% statewide share. This likely means Rhode Island residents living outside the metropolitan area are more likely to have a college degree than the adults living in Providence-Warwick.

Despite lower educational attainment, the typical household in the Providence metro area earns about $900 more a year than the statewide median income.

40. South Carolina
> Most educated city: Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 37.3%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 2
> Median household income: $55,923

As is the case in the vast majority of states, educational attainment rates vary widely across South Carolina. For example, in the Sumpter metro area, only 17.3% of adults have earned a bachelor’s degree. In the Hilton Head Island metro, by contrast, 37.3% of adults have completed a four-year college degree — well above both the state and national percentages. Household incomes in the state’s most educated metro are also higher than they are across the state. At $55,923, however, the median household income is just inline with the national level.

41. South Dakota
> Most educated city: Sioux Falls
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 31.7%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 11
> Median household income: $59,844

There are only two metro areas in South Dakota, and each has a higher concentration of adults with bachelor’s degrees than the state as a whole. In Sioux Falls, 31.7% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a slightly larger share than the 30.0% share in Rapid City and considerably more than the 27.5% share of adults with similar education statewide.

With higher educational attainment, incomes are far higher in Sioux Falls than across the state as a whole. The typical metro area household earns roughly $6,800 more annually than the typical household does statewide.

42. Tennessee
> Most educated city: Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 33.6%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 56
> Median household income: $57,985

Slightly more than one in three adults in the Nashville-Davidson metro area have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. By contrast, only about one in four adults statewide have similar educational attainment. Higher educational attainment rates have likely led to higher incomes in Nashville. The typical metro area household earns roughly $10,700 more a year than the typical Tennessee household.

43. Texas
> Most educated city: Austin-Round Rock
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 42.6%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 43
> Median household income: $67,195

The Austin-Round Rock metro area is home to dozens of higher education institutions, including the University of Texas at Austin. The university facilitates major research operations and more than 11,000 graduate students attend the school. Along with Dell, IBM, Apple, and Samsung, it is one of many major employers in the metro area that also typically require workers to have higher than a high school education. With high-paying jobs, large technology companies and facilities, and a number of post-secondary education institutions, the Austin-Round Rock area has the highest concentration of college educated adults of any metro area in Texas.

44. Utah
> Most educated city: Provo-Orem
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 37.7%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 18
> Median household income: $65,092

A relatively large share of adults in Utah are college educated. Among state residents 25 and older, 31.8% have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to only 30.6% of the same age group nationwide. In Provo-Orem, 37.7% of adults have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, a higher share than in any other metro area in the state.

The high college attainment rate is likely linked to the presence of Brigham Young University. The school is a major employer in the area and nearly 3,000 graduate students attend the university. Many of the workers as well as the graduate students help bolster the area’s college educated population.

45. Vermont
> Most educated city: Burlington-South Burlington
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 43.4%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 8
> Median household income: $66,807

As the only metro area in Vermont, Burlington is necessarily the most educated urban region in the state. The city’s college attainment rate of 43.4% is nonetheless one of the highest in the country, well above the national bachelor’s attainment rate of 30.6%. As is usually the case in well-educated metro areas, Burlington area residents seem to benefit from higher-paying jobs. The typical area household earns $66,807 annually, considerably more than the typical statewide and national households incomes of $56,990 and $55,775 a year respectively.

46. Virginia
> Most educated city: Charlottesville
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 40.9%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 3
> Median household income: $63,918

The Charlottesville metro area has the highest share of adults with bachelor’s degrees in the state, at 40.9%. Incomes tend to increase along with education levels, and many Charlottesville residents are especially wealthy. Across the metro area, 7.5% of households earn at least $200,000 a year, higher than the 5.8% of American households that earn as much.

47. Washington
> Most educated city: Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 41.2%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 68
> Median household income: $75,331

The Seattle metro area has the highest percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree in Washington. Incomes in the metro area are also far higher than they are across the state as a whole. The typical Seattle area household earns $75,331 a year, significantly more than the typical Washington household income of $64,129 annually. Amazon.com’s presence in Seattle, as well as the several aerospace companies located in the region, have likely helped drive up both the incomes and educational attainment in the area.

48. West Virginia
> Most educated city: Morgantown
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 34.3%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 7
> Median household income: $45,941

Only 19.6% of adults in West Virginia have earned a bachelor’s degree, the smallest share of any state in the country. However, educational attainment rates are not uniform across the state. In the Morgantown metro area, 34.3% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, by far the largest share of the state’s seven metropolitan areas.

Like many metro areas with relatively large shares of college-educated adults, Morgantown is home to a major research institution. West Virginia University, where nearly 29,000 students are enrolled, and more than 1,800 full-time instructional faculty are employed, is based in the area.

49. Wisconsin
> Most educated city: Madison
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 43.5%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 17
> Median household income: $64,174

Madison has the largest share of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree in Wisconsin and one of the largest shares in the country. The University of Wisconsin is located in the city proper, and partially explains the city’s high educational attainment rate. Over 9,000 graduate students attend the university and some 21,600 faculty and staff are employed there. Not only do a large portion of these individuals hold a bachelor’s degree, but large research institutions tend to attract companies that require educated workers to the area.

50. Wyoming
> Most educated city: Cheyenne
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 27.5%
> Number of postsecondary institutions: 4
> Median household income: $60,599

In Cheyenne, 27.5% of adults have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. This share is slightly larger than the comparable 26.2% statewide share and well above the 22.2% share in Casper, the state’s only other metro area.

Cheyenne residents also earn higher incomes than residents across the state. The typical Cheyenne household earns $60,599 a year, about $400 more than the typical Wyoming household and $7,713 more than the median income in Casper.