Special Report

This Is the Least Educated State in America

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The percentage of American adults with a college degree has continued to increase in recent years, growing from less than 10% in much of the 1960s to 33.1% in 2019. Americans with college degrees not only tend to earn higher incomes than those without, but they also typically have longer and healthier lives.

Though bachelor’s degree attainment rates are increasing, there is still much variation in the share of college-educated adults across the country. In a handful of states, over 40% of all adults 25 and older have graduated from college. In others, fewer than one-quarter hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

To identify the least-educated states, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed index values for educational attainment and school quality compiled by Scholaroo.com in its 2022 Most & Least Educated States report. Index values are out of 100, with higher values indicative of a more educated population. The ranks are out of the 50 states.

The bottom end of the list of states, based on education, is dominated by states in the South and West. The worst performer is Oklahoma, with an overall score of only 36 out of 100. Above it are Nevada and Louisiana, each with a score of 38.7. Arizona is next with a score of 38.8, and Mississippi rounds the bottom five with a score of 39.3 out of 100. (Here are the cheapest states to get a college education.)

In terms of best-educated states, the No. 1 spot is held by Massachusetts, with an overall score of 84.4 out of 100. The state has the highest share of college, master program, and doctorate program graduates and ranks first in both educational attainment and school quality. The state is home to such famous institutions as Amherst College, Boston College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tufts University.

Next is Connecticut with an overall score of 74.6. The state, which has a tradition of investing in education, including the Connecticut Technical High School System, is home to Yale University. In third place is Maryland, with an overall score of 71.7 out of 100. It is home to institutions such as Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland and the United States Naval Academy.

The list of best-educated states is dominated by states in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. Rounding out the top 10 are New Jersey, Virginia, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. (See also the most educated cities in the country.)

Click here to see the most and least educated states in 2022

50. Oklahoma
> Overall score: 36.0
> Educational attainment rank: 48
> School quality rank: 47

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49. Nevada
> Overall score: 38.7
> Educational attainment rank: 49
> School quality rank: 42

48. Louisiana
> Overall score: 38.7
> Educational attainment rank: 47
> School quality rank: 46

47. Arizona
> Overall score: 38.8
> Educational attainment rank: 38
> School quality rank: 48

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46. Mississippi
> Overall score: 39.3
> Educational attainment rank: 50
> School quality rank: 40

45. New Mexico
> Overall score: 39.6
> Educational attainment rank: 34
> School quality rank: 49

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44. Idaho
> Overall score: 41.0
> Educational attainment rank: 44
> School quality rank: 43

43. West Virginia
> Overall score: 41.8
> Educational attainment rank: 41
> School quality rank: 44

42. Alaska
> Overall score: 42.9
> Educational attainment rank: 22
> School quality rank: 50

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41. Alabama
> Overall score: 43.6
> Educational attainment rank: 45
> School quality rank: 39

40. Arkansas
> Overall score: 44.1
> Educational attainment rank: 46
> School quality rank: 36

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39. South Carolina
> Overall score: 44.4
> Educational attainment rank: 32
> School quality rank: 45

38. Texas
> Overall score: 45.8
> Educational attainment rank: 39
> School quality rank: 37

37. Wyoming
> Overall score: 46.6
> Educational attainment rank: 42
> School quality rank: 30

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36. Florida
> Overall score: 47.5
> Educational attainment rank: 36
> School quality rank: 32

35. South Dakota
> Overall score: 48.1
> Educational attainment rank: 43
> School quality rank: 26

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34. Georgia
> Overall score: 48.9
> Educational attainment rank: 27
> School quality rank: 38

33. North Dakota
> Overall score: 49.5
> Educational attainment rank: 40
> School quality rank: 22

32. Tennessee
> Overall score: 49.6
> Educational attainment rank: 33
> School quality rank: 28

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31. North Carolina
> Overall score: 49.7
> Educational attainment rank: 30
> School quality rank: 35

30. Indiana
> Overall score: 50.0
> Educational attainment rank: 37
> School quality rank: 25

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29. Ohio
> Overall score: 50.6
> Educational attainment rank: 26
> School quality rank: 33

28. Montana
> Overall score: 50.7
> Educational attainment rank: 25
> School quality rank: 34

27. Kentucky
> Overall score: 51.0
> Educational attainment rank: 35
> School quality rank: 20

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26. Hawaii
> Overall score: 52.2
> Educational attainment rank: 14
> School quality rank: 41

25. Michigan
> Overall score: 52.7
> Educational attainment rank: 19
> School quality rank: 29

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24. Kansas
> Overall score: 54.5
> Educational attainment rank: 21
> School quality rank: 21

23. Utah
> Overall score: 54.6
> Educational attainment rank: 28
> School quality rank: 19

22. Missouri
> Overall score: 55.9
> Educational attainment rank: 20
> School quality rank: 18

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21. Oregon
> Overall score: 56.0
> Educational attainment rank: 16
> School quality rank: 31

20. Nebraska
> Overall score: 56.0
> Educational attainment rank: 23
> School quality rank: 16

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19. Iowa
> Overall score: 56.1
> Educational attainment rank: 31
> School quality rank: 9

18. Wisconsin
> Overall score: 56.6
> Educational attainment rank: 29
> School quality rank: 11

17. Maine
> Overall score: 56.7
> Educational attainment rank: 24
> School quality rank: 13

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16. Delaware
> Overall score: 57.6
> Educational attainment rank: 18
> School quality rank: 17

15. California
> Overall score: 59.6
> Educational attainment rank: 10
> School quality rank: 24

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14. Colorado
> Overall score: 59.7
> Educational attainment rank: 8
> School quality rank: 27

13. Pennsylvania
> Overall score: 59.9
> Educational attainment rank: 17
> School quality rank: 14

12. Washington
> Overall score: 60.0
> Educational attainment rank: 9
> School quality rank: 23

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11. Illinois
> Overall score: 61.1
> Educational attainment rank: 13
> School quality rank: 15

10. Rhode Island
> Overall score: 62.5
> Educational attainment rank: 12
> School quality rank: 12

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9. Minnesota
> Overall score: 63.7
> Educational attainment rank: 15
> School quality rank: 5

8. New Hampshire
> Overall score: 64.2
> Educational attainment rank: 11
> School quality rank: 8

7. New York
> Overall score: 68.8
> Educational attainment rank: 5
> School quality rank: 6

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6. Vermont
> Overall score: 68.8
> Educational attainment rank: 4
> School quality rank: 7

5. Virginia
> Overall score: 69.6
> Educational attainment rank: 6
> School quality rank: 4

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4. New Jersey
> Overall score: 70.8
> Educational attainment rank: 7
> School quality rank: 3

3. Maryland
> Overall score: 71.7
> Educational attainment rank: 2
> School quality rank: 10

2. Connecticut
> Overall score: 74.6
> Educational attainment rank: 3
> School quality rank: 2

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1. Massachusetts
> Overall score: 84.4
> Educational attainment rank: 1
> School quality rank: 1

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