Special Report

Cities Where the Most People Graduate High School

Nationwide, 88.6% of Americans age 25 and over have finished high school. Americans with higher educational attainment tend to earn higher incomes and live healthier lives than those with lower educational attainment. High school attainment has consistently increased over time, providing a larger share of the population with access to higher education and higher-paying job opportunities. In many American cities, the high school graduation rate is much higher than it is nationwide, and in a few it is higher than 95% of the 25 and over population.

To determine the cities where the most people graduate high school, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. We ranked metropolitan statistical areas based on the percentage of adults 25 and over with at least a high school diploma. 

Though the typical college graduate earns $24,000 more than workers with a high school diploma as their highest education level, there are dozens of jobs in which most workers earn over $70,000 annually that only require a high school diploma. These are the highest paying jobs you can get without a college degree.

Of the 50 cities with the highest high school attainment rate, the majority — 26 — are located in the Midwest. Minnesota has more cities on this list than any other state, with six, followed by Wisconsin and Iowa with five. Western states are home to 17 of these cities, while the Northeast has six. Just one Southern city has among the highest high school attainment rates in the U.S.

Despite the high share of high school graduates in their cities, Midwestern states do not generally have a high share of college graduates. While many cities on this list are in the Midwest, most of the states that rank in the top 10 in terms of bachelor’s degree attainment rates are in states in the Northeast, despite the fact that relatively few cities in the region have especially outsized shares of high school graduates. These are the states with the highest bachelor’s degree attainment rates.

Click here to see the cities where the most people graduate high school.