Special Report

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

Nottingham Elementary School, Virginia
Source: Wikimedia Commons

6. Virginia
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 37.0%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 88.9%
> 2015 median household income: $66,262 (8th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $55,799 (6th highest)

Of adults in Virginia, 37.0% have at least a bachelor’s degree, the sixth highest college attainment rate of any state. Given the state’s high educational levels, it is not surprising that a large share of Virginia residents work in high-paying jobs that tend to require college degrees. For example, 14.7% of the state’s workforce is employed in a professional, scientific, or management position, the second highest share of any state. The typical Virginia household has an income of $66,262 annually, far more than the $55,775 national median household income.

West Rutland High School, Vermont
Source: Wikimedia Commons

7. Vermont
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 36.9%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 91.7%
> 2015 median household income: $56,990 (20th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $40,348 (3rd lowest)

In Vermont, 36.9% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the seventh highest share in the nation, and a 2 percentage point increase compared to the previous year. While higher education tends to lead to higher incomes, the typical adult with at least a bachelor’s degree in Vermont earns just $40,348 a year, the third lowest figure of any state and not much more than the median earnings for all Vermont workers. Still, like other states with the highest college attainment rates, the poverty rate of 10.2% in Vermont is far less than the 14.7% national poverty rate.

Exeter High School, New Hampshire
Source: Wikimedia Commons

8. New Hampshire
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 35.7%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 93.1%
> 2015 median household income: $70,303 (7th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $51,426 (14th highest)

In New Hampshire, 35.7% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, higher than the 30.6% of Americans with similar educational attainment. States with high college attainment rates tend to have strong high school attainment as well. In New Hampshire, 93.1% of adults have at least graduated from high school, the second highest in the country. Those residents with college education are more likely to have jobs with higher incomes. The typical New Hampshire household earns $70,303 annually, the seventh highest median household income of any state.

State University of New York at New Paltz
Source: Wikimedia Commons

9. New York
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 35.0%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 86.0%
> 2015 median household income: $60,850 (15th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $55,360 (8th highest)

Over the last year, the share of New York adults with at least a bachelor’s degree increased slightly from 34.5% to 35.0%, today the ninth highest share of any state. In that same time, the median household income in the state increased by roughly $2,000. The typical New Yorker with a bachelor’s degree earns $55,360 a year, the eighth highest such figure of any state and roughly $14,000 more than the median earnings for all workers in the state. This discrepancy in earnings may be one reason behind the high income inequality in New York, which according to the Gini coefficient is the worst of any state.

North High School, St. Paul, Minnesota
Source: Wikimedia Commons

10. Minnesota
> Pct. of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.7%
> Pct. of adults with at least a high school diploma: 92.8%
> 2015 median household income: $63,488 (12th highest)
> Median earnings for bachelor degree holders: $51,601 (13th highest)

In Minnesota, 34.7% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than the 30.6% of American adults with similar educational backgrounds. States with high college attainment rates tend to have strong high school attainment as well. In Minnesota, 92.8% of adults have at least graduated from high school, the third highest in the country. Educational achievement tends to coincide with higher pay, and Minnesota is no exception. The typical household in the state earns $63,488 a year, about $8,000 more than the $55,775 national median household income.