Special Report

The Most Educated City in Every State

Source: sorincolac / Getty Images

Hawaii: Urban Honolulu
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 34.7%
> Median household income: $81,284
> Unemployment rate: 2.0%
> Number of colleges and universities: 22

Urban Honolulu is the only metro area in Hawaii — and the only metro area outside of the contiguous United States — where more than one in every three adults have a bachelor’s degree. The area’s 34.7% bachelor’s degree attainment rate exceeds the comparable 27.0% rate in Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, the state’s only other metro area, and the 32.9% rate across Hawaii as a whole.

Well-educated areas also are often wealthy, and Honolulu is no exception. More then one in 10 metro area households earn $200,000 or more a year, compared to 9.1% of households statewide and 6.9% of households nationwide.

Source: vkbhat / Getty Images

Idaho: Boise City
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 30.1%
> Median household income: $55,324
> Unemployment rate: 2.8%
> Number of colleges and universities: 21

Of the five metro areas in Idaho, Boise is the only one where over 30% of adults have a bachelor’s degree. Statewide, 26.8% of adults have a bachelor’s degree. As is the case in many cities on this list, Boise has a dense concentration of higher education institutions. There are 21 colleges and universities in Boise — by far the most of any metro area in the state — which together awarded 8,052 degrees in 2015 alone. Boise State University, the largest school in the metro area and one of the largest in the state, enrolls over 2,700 graduate students.

Source: benkrut / Getty Images

Illinois: Bloomington
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 43.1%
> Median household income: $65,936
> Unemployment rate: 3.9%
> Number of colleges and universities: 5

Bloomington is the best educated metro area in Illinois and one of the best educated nationwide. Some 43.1% of area adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 34.4% of adults across the state and 32.0% of adults nationwide. Bloomington also has an exceptional high school diploma attainment rate, which at 95.7%, is higher than all but four other metro areas nationwide.

A college education typically opens doors to higher paying jobs, and in Bloomington, a four-year degree pays off even more than usual. The average annual salary for those with a bachelor’s degree in the metro area is $66,497, about $34,900 more than the average salary for those with only a high school education. Statewide, workers with a bachelor’s degree earn $25,482 more than those with just a high school education.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Indiana: Bloomington
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.9%
> Median household income: $49,043
> Unemployment rate: 3.9%
> Number of colleges and universities: 2

Of the dozen metro areas in Indiana, Bloomington is the only one where over 40% of adults have a bachelor’s degree. More so than most cities on this list, the high bachelor’s degree attainment rate is largely explained by the presence of a major research institution. The Bloomington metro area is home to the flagship campus of Indiana University, the largest four-year higher education institution in the state. The school, which enrolls over 10,000 graduate and professional degree students, issued nearly 11,500 degrees in 2015 alone.

Source: tedward1 / Getty Images

Iowa: Ames
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 53.0%
> Median household income: $60,351
> Unemployment rate: 1.5%
> Number of colleges and universities: 2

In Ames, the best educated metro area in Iowa and second best educated in the Midwest, over half of all adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The metro area’s 53.0% bachelor’s degree attainment rate is well above the comparable 28.9% state and 32.0% national rates. One of the many college towns on this list, Ames is home to Iowa State University, which awarded more than 7,800 degrees in 2015 alone. As of the fall 2018 semester, the school enrolled nearly 4,800 graduate students.

College-educated adults have access to a wider range of jobs and are better sheltered from economic downturns. In Ames, just 1.5% of the labor force is unemployed, the lowest unemployment rate of any U.S. metro area.