Special Report

The Most Educated City in Every State

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

New Mexico: Santa Fe
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.3%
> Median household income: $58,821
> Unemployment rate: 3.7%
> Number of colleges and universities: 7

New Mexico’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 27.1% is lower than that of most states. Still, some parts of the state have relatively large college educated populations. In Santa Fe, the state capital, 40.3% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, the largest share of any metro area in the state and well above the 32.0% of adults nationwide.

While those with a college degree are more likely to report higher incomes than those with just a high school diploma, the benefit is relatively small in Santa Fe. The average annual salary for workers with a four-year degree in the metro area is $37,055, only about $6,600 more the average salary for workers with only a high school diploma. Meanwhile, the earnings difference is $15,557 across the state and $21,860 across the United States as a whole.

Source: peterspiro / Getty Images

New York: Ithaca
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 52.2%
> Median household income: $56,672
> Unemployment rate: 3.6%
> Number of colleges and universities: 4

Ithaca is the only metro area in New York state — and one of only eight nationwide — where over half of all adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. The high educational attainment in the metro area is largely attributable to the presence of Cornell University and Ithaca College, which together issued nearly 9,000 degrees in 2015 alone. Cornell, the largest academic institution in Ithaca, enrolls over 8,000 professional and graduate level students and employs 1,650 faculty members, positions that typically require a bachelor’s degree at minimum. All told, the number of students and faculty at Cornell alone is equal to nearly a quarter of the Ithaca metro area population.

Source: JillLang / Getty Images

North Carolina: Durham-Chapel Hill
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 46.9%
> Median household income: $61,271
> Unemployment rate: 3.4%
> Number of colleges and universities: 17

Many of the cities on this list have high concentrations of college educated adults because of the presence of colleges and universities. Postsecondary institutions employ highly educated instructors and researchers, award hundreds if not thousands of degrees a year, and often offer graduate programs for which a bachelor’s degree is a precondition to enrollment. In addition to Duke University, the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the largest university in the state. The 17 colleges and universities in the area awarded more than 18,700 degrees in 2015 alone.

Currently, 46.9% of adults in the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the largest share of any of North Carolina’s 15 metro areas. For reference, 31.3% of adults statewide have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

North Dakota: Fargo
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.8%
> Median household income: $63,353
> Unemployment rate: 2.4%
> Number of colleges and universities: 10

All three metro areas in North Dakota have a higher bachelor’s degree attainment rate than the 32.0% national rate. Of the three metro areas, Fargo has the highest bachelor’s degree attainment rate, at 39.8%.

A bachelor’s degree can open the door to higher paying job opportunities — and the financial gain that higher education can bring is greater in Fargo than across the state as a whole. The typical worker with a four-year college degree earns $50,860 a year in Fargo, $15,236 more than the typical high school graduate. Across North Dakota, bachelor’s degree holders earn $50,270 on average, just $14,168 more than the average worker with only a high school diploma.

Source: traveler1116 / Getty Images

Ohio: Columbus
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.9%
> Median household income: $63,764
> Unemployment rate: 4.0%
> Number of colleges and universities: 59

Of the 11 metro areas in Ohio, Columbus is the only one where more than one in every three adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. A college education can insulate workers from economic slumps and make them more attractive candidates to potential employers, and in Columbus, just 4.0% of workers are out of a job, the lowest unemployment rate of any metro area in the state. Across Ohio, just 28.0% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, and the state’s unemployment rate is 4.6%.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.