Special Report

Most Educated Cities in the Country

The average cost of a college education in the United States is $35,720 a year — three times higher than it was two decades ago. Surging prices have led to unprecedented student debt levels totalling more than $1.7 trillion — and may partially explain why college enrollment rates have fallen by nearly 2% a year since 2010. (This is the most expensive college in every state.)

Nonetheless, while a college education may not be for everyone, it remains a valuable asset that can offer better access to career opportunities, improve job security, and increase earning potential. 

Nationwide, an estimated 32.1% of American adults 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Educational attainment rates vary considerably across the country, however, and in some cities, the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree is more than double the national average. For example, the average weekly wage for a college educated worker in the United States is about 67% higher than it is for those with no more than a high school diploma. Additionally, college educated Americans are less than half as likely to be unemployed as those who only finished high school.

Using education data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most educated cities in the United States. In each of the cities on this list, over 70% of the adult population have at least a bachelor’s degree. (Here’s a list of how many people have had a college degree every year since 1971.)

Several of the cities on this list, including State College, Pennsylvania; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Ann Arbor, Michigan, are home to major research universities. These areas have large graduate school populations and often a concentration of employers that fill high-skill jobs with university graduates. In all but four cities on this list, the typical household earns more than the national median household income of $62,843, and nearly every city has a lower five-year average unemployment rate than the comparable 5.3% national figure. 

Click here to see the most educated cities in the nation.
Click here to see our methodology.