Special Report

Most Educated City in Each 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.