Special Report

Most and Least Educated States

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

20. Delaware (tied)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 33.2% (2019); 31.3% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $56,603 (15th highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $43,164
> Unemployment: 3.8% (2019); 3.8% (2018)

The bachelor’s degree attainment rate Delaware’s increased 1.9 percentage points between 2018 and 2019, tied for the second highest increase among states, and nearly four times the national increase. With 33.2% of the state’s 25 and over residents holding at least a bachelor’s degree, Delaware ranks as the 20th most educated state, tied with Maine and Nebraska. Delaware is also home to a relatively large share of residents with an advanced degree, such as a master’s or doctorate, at 13.7%. Nationwide, 12.8% of adults are similarly well educated.

Source: JeanMarieBiele / Getty Images

18. Montana (tied)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 33.6% (2019); 31.7% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $42,150 (the lowest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $36,953
> Unemployment: 3.5% (2019); 3.6% (2018)

Montana is one of 19 states in which more than one in every three residents age 25 and up have a bachelor’s degree. The state has a slightly higher than average bachelor’s degree attainment rate despite a lack of financial incentive. The typical worker with a bachelor’s degree in Montana earns just $42,150 a year, the lowest median income for workers with similar education levels of any state, and only about $5,000 more than the median income for workers of all education levels. For comparison, nationwide, the typical worker with a bachelor’s degree earns $56,344, about $15,000 more than the median earnings for all workers.

Source: maximkabb / iStock

18. Hawaii (tied)
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 33.6% (2019); 33.5% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $52,183 (23rd highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $44,557
> Unemployment: 2.7% (2019); 2.5% (2018)

Adults in Hawaii are slightly more likely than the typical American adult to have a four-year college education. An estimated 33.6% of state residents 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree compared to 33.1% of Americans nationwide in the same age group. Hawaiians are also more likely to have completed high school than the typical American. Across the state, 92.4% of adults have a high school diploma or equivalent, compared with 88.6% of all American adults.

Source: Davel5957 / Getty Images

17. Kansas
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.0% (2019); 33.8% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $51,678 (24th lowest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $41,181
> Unemployment: 3.2% (2019); 3.3% (2018)

In Kansas, 34.0% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the 17th largest share of all states and the third largest in the Midwest. The state has a higher than average bachelor’s degree attainment rate despite a relatively limited financial incentive. The typical worker with a bachelor’s degree in Kansas earns $51,678 a year, only about $10,000 more than the median earnings for workers of all education levels. Meanwhile, nationwide, the typical worker with a bachelor’s degree earns $56,344, about $15,000 more than the median earnings for all workers.

Source: 4nadia / Getty Images

16. Oregon
> Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree: 34.5% (2019); 34.0% (2018)
> Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders:/strong> $52,498 (21st highest)
> Median earnings for all workers: $40,774
> Unemployment: 3.7% (2019); 4.1% (2018)

Across the United States, workers with a bachelor’s degree typically earn about 35% more than the median annual earnings across all education levels. In Oregon, a relatively well-educated state where a larger than average 34.5% share of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, incomes are also higher than average. The typical household in the state earns $67,058 — compared to the national median household income of $65,712.