America’s Most and Least Educated States: A Survey of All 50

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Harvard, Boston, Massachusetts
Source: Thinkstock

1. Massachusetts
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 41.5%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 90.2%
> 2015 median household income: $70,628 (6th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $57,285 (4th highest)

Home to some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, Massachusetts is the only state in which more than two in five adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. Because of their high educational levels many Massachusetts residents likely qualify for high-paying jobs that tend to require college degrees. For example, 13.5% of the Massachusetts workforce is employed in a professional, scientific, or management occupation, the fourth highest share in the country. Some of those employees may belong to the 10.0% of Massachusetts households earning $200,000 and higher a year. Only two other states have a higher share of households earning as much.

Central High School, Grand Junction, Colorado
Source: Wikimedia Commons

2. Colorado
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 39.2%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.2%
> 2015 median household income: $63,909 (11th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $50,196 (17th highest)

In Colorado, 39.2% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the second largest share of any state. States with high college attainment rates tend to have strong high school attainment as well. In Colorado, 91.2% of adults have at least graduated from high school — one of the larger such shares in the country. Both the high school and college attainments rates increased by about a percentage point last year. A greater share of adults with a college degree likely means more residents have access to high-paying jobs. The median household income in the state is $63,909, far higher than the $55,775 the typical American household earns a year.

Johns Hopkins, Maryland
Source: Thinkstock

3. Maryland
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 38.8%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 89.6%
> 2015 median household income: $75,847 (the highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $60,745 (3rd highest)

In Maryland, 38.8% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the third largest share in the country. The high level of educational attainment helps explain the state’s high median income. The typical Maryland household earns $75,847 a year, approximately $20,000 more than the typical American household’s income of $55,775. A large share of Maryland residents likely earn their high incomes in fields that require college education. For example, 15.5% of the state workforce is employed in a professional, scientific, or management occupation, the highest share nationwide.

Yale, New Haven, Connecticut
Source: Thinkstock

4. Connecticut
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 38.3%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 90.2%
> 2015 median household income: $71,346 (5th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $61,071 (the highest)

In Connecticut, 38.3% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the fourth highest college attainment rate nationwide. A college education goes a long way in Connecticut, where the typical adult with a bachelor’s degree earns $61,071 annually, the highest median earnings for college graduates of any state. College graduates likely account for the bulk of Connecticut households earnings more than $200,000 annually. The 10.3% of households earnings such high incomes is the second highest share in the country.

linden-high-school-new-jersey
Source: Wikimedia Commons

5. New Jersey
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 37.6%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 89.1%
> 2015 median household income: $72,222 (4th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $60,935 (2nd highest)

In New Jersey, 37.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than the 30.6% national college attainment rate. College graduates are compensated particularly well in New Jersey. The typical adult with a bachelor’s degree in the state earns $60,935 annually, the second highest such figure of any state. College graduates likely comprise a large share of the New Jersey households earning more than $200,000 a year. The 10.9% of state households earnings such high incomes is the highest such share nationwide.