Special Report

Most Educated Big Cities In The Country

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A college education is not for everyone. Yet for many who choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree, the experience is not only intellectually enriching, but also a key driver to upward economic mobility. In the United States, a bachelor’s degree can open up a wide range of employment opportunities and lead to greater job security and higher lifetime earning potential.

Many college-educated Americans, upon joining the labor force, gravitate towards urban living in metropolitan areas nationwide. Cities like Austin, New York, and San Francisco are economic hubs, home to many large employers that require a skilled workforce and can afford to pay top dollar to attract talent from around the country. 

As a result, some major metropolitan areas have especially well-educated populations. 

Using metro area level data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 most educated cities in the country. Metro areas are ranked based on the share of adults 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

Among the metro areas on this list, the share of the adult population with at least a four-year college degree ranges from about 41% to over 60%. For reference, only 35% of adults 25 and older nationwide have a bachelor’s degree. 

Many of the metro areas on this list are also home to major research universities and large postsecondary institutions. Cornell University, Harvard University, Penn State University, and the University of Virginia are just some of the institutions located within the metro areas on this list. (Here is a look at the cities where a college education pays off the most.)

Partially because college-educated workers are more likely to have high salaries and are less likely to be unemployed, the places on this list tend to be relatively wealthy and have stronger than average job markets. In 35 of these metro areas, the median household income exceeds the national median of $69,717, and in 40 of them, the July 2022 jobless rate was as low or lower than the 3.5% national rate. (Here is a look at the 30 best college majors for a successful career.)

Click here to see the most educated big cities in the country.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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50. Kingston, NY
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 41.1%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 92.9% — 90th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $78,938 — 48th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.1% — 137th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 182,951 — 147th lowest of 382 metros

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49. Bend, OR
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 41.2%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 94.3% — 44th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $79,796 — 46th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.5% — 165th highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 204,801 — 159th lowest of 382 metros

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

48. Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 41.4%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 91.8% — 164th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $82,258 — 35th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 4.0% — 100th highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 1,211,906 — 48th highest of 382 metros

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

47. Manchester-Nashua, NH
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 41.4%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 94.1% — 48th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $91,627 — 12th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.0% — 9th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 424,079 — 129th highest of 382 metros

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46. Colorado Springs, CO
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 41.5%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 94.5% — 36th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $79,014 — 47th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.5% — 165th highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 762,792 — 79th highest of 382 metros

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45. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 41.9%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 91.9% — 149th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $80,007 — 45th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 4.2% — 85th highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 6,228,601 — 7th highest of 382 metros

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44. San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 42.0%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 88.4% — 98th lowest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $91,003 — 13th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.1% — 137th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 3,286,069 — 17th highest of 382 metros

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43. Rochester, MN
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 42.1%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 95.9% — 11th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $80,434 — 44th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 1.7% — 2nd lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 227,151 — 180th lowest of 382 metros

42. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 42.2%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 93.1% — 80th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $83,943 — 31st highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.4% — 175th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 2,510,696 — 25th highest of 382 metros

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41. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 42.2%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 90.9% — 182nd lowest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $77,589 — 58th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.8% — 90th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 6,144,970 — 8th highest of 382 metros

40. Lincoln, NE
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 42.7%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 93.9% — 53rd highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $65,229 — 153rd highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.0% — 9th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 343,035 — 153rd highest of 382 metros

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39. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 42.8%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 88.4% — 96th lowest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $93,933 — 11th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 4.1% — 91st highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 267,792 — 186th highest of 382 metros

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38. Huntsville, AL
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 42.8%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 91.4% — 178th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $76,963 — 60th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.2% — 19th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 502,728 — 113th highest of 382 metros

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

37. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 42.9%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 92.3% — 120th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $86,302 — 24th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.9% — 119th highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 2,838,327 — 20th highest of 382 metros

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36. Hilton Head Island-Bluffton, SC
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 43.3%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 94.3% — 43rd highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $67,779 — 119th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.0% — 121st lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 222,072 — 175th lowest of 382 metros

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35. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 43.6%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 87.9% — 86th lowest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $84,409 — 30th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 4.4% — 67th highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 19,768,458 — the highest of 382 metros

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34. Fargo, ND-MN
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 43.7%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 94.9% — 28th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $66,216 — 141st highest of 382 metros (tied)
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 1.9% — 6th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 252,136 — 191st lowest of 382 metros

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33. Bloomington, IN
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 43.9%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 92.5% — 114th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $52,588 — 54th lowest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.6% — 59th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 161,321 — 119th lowest of 382 metros

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32. Ames, IA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 44.7%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 96.3% — 4th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $64,569 — 161st highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 1.9% — 6th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 126,195 — 65th lowest of 382 metros

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31. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 44.7%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 94.5% — 35th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $87,433 — 20th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 1.9% — 6th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 3,690,512 — 16th highest of 382 metros

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30. Portland-South Portland, ME
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 45.0%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 96.0% — 9th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $78,558 — 53rd highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.5% — 44th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 556,893 — 103rd highest of 382 metros

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29. State College, PA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 45.3%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 93.7% — 58th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $66,789 — 129th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.3% — 160th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 157,527 — 114th lowest of 382 metros

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28. Athens-Clarke County, GA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 45.4%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 89.9% — 147th lowest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $59,628 — 140th lowest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.5% — 44th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 217,382 — 171st lowest of 382 metros

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27. Provo-Orem, UT
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 45.5%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 94.9% — 27th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $86,629 — 22nd highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 1.8% — 4th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 696,699 — 86th highest of 382 metros

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26. Missoula, MT
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 45.6%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 96.7% — 2nd highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $66,803 — 128th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.7% — 79th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 119,533 — 54th lowest of 382 metros

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25. Columbia, MO
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 45.7%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 95.6% — 15th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $61,781 — 180th lowest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.1% — 14th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 212,796 — 170th lowest of 382 metros

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24. Trenton-Princeton, NJ
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 45.9%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 91.2% — 188th lowest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $87,662 — 19th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.0% — 121st lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 385,898 — 145th highest of 382 metros

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23. Santa Fe, NM
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 46.2%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 93.3% — 76th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $67,341 — 123rd highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.9% — 119th highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 155,201 — 108th lowest of 382 metros

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22. Barnstable Town, MA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 46.4%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 95.9% — 13th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $83,537 — 32nd highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 4.2% — 85th highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 232,411 — 182nd lowest of 382 metros

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21. Champaign-Urbana, IL
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 46.6%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 95.0% — 25th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $59,189 — 135th lowest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 4.1% — 91st highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 222,696 — 176th lowest of 382 metros

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20. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 46.8%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 93.6% — 65th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $101,721 — 5th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.1% — 137th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 4,011,553 — 15th highest of 382 metros

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19. Bloomington, IL
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 47.4%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 95.5% — 20th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $69,612 — 110th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.9% — 119th highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 170,889 — 129th lowest of 382 metros

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18. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 47.8%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 91.9% — 159th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $90,716 — 14th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.2% — 148th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 2,972,567 — 19th highest of 382 metros

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17. Iowa City, IA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 48.7%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 96.2% — 7th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $66,216 — 141st highest of 382 metros (tied)
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.3% — 25th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 177,239 — 138th lowest of 382 metros

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16. Madison, WI
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 48.8%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 95.9% — 12th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $76,731 — 62nd highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.2% — 19th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 683,183 — 89th highest of 382 metros

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15. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 50.0%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 91.9% — 158th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $86,530 — 23rd highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.9% — 102nd lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 2,352,426 — 28th highest of 382 metros

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14. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 50.5%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 90.3% — 163rd lowest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $100,810 — 6th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 4.0% — 100th highest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 959,768 — 59th highest of 382 metros

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13. Raleigh-Cary, NC
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 50.7%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 92.7% — 102nd highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $85,303 — 25th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.0% — 121st lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 1,448,411 — 41st highest of 382 metros

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12. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 50.8%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 91.0% — 184th lowest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $71,601 — 96th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.9% — 102nd lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 654,012 — 92nd highest of 382 metros

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11. Charlottesville, VA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 50.8%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 92.9% — 88th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $78,819 — 50th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.5% — 44th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 220,569 — 173rd lowest of 382 metros

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10. Burlington-South Burlington, VT
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 51.0%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 95.8% — 14th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $81,852 — 37th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 1.8% — 4th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 226,715 — 179th lowest of 382 metros

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9. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 51.1%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 92.1% — 139th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $100,750 — 7th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.1% — 137th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 4,899,932 — 11th highest of 382 metros

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8. Fort Collins, CO
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 51.7%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 96.1% — 8th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $78,109 — 57th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.7% — 79th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 362,533 — 150th highest of 382 metros

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7. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 51.8%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 89.6% — 140th lowest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $116,005 — 2nd highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.6% — 59th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 4,623,264 — 13th highest of 382 metros

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6. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 53.4%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 91.9% — 160th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $110,355 — 3rd highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.4% — 175th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 6,358,652 — 6th highest of 382 metros

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5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 54.0%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 89.3% — 123rd lowest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $139,892 — the highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.2% — 19th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 1,952,185 — 36th highest of 382 metros

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4. Corvallis, OR
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 54.9%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 96.5% — 3rd highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $64,163 — 167th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.9% — 102nd lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 96,017 — 21st lowest of 382 metros

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3. Ann Arbor, MI
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 57.3%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 96.2% — 6th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $76,918 — 61st highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 3.3% — 160th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 369,390 — 148th highest of 382 metros

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2. Ithaca, NY
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 58.5%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 95.4% — 22nd highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $66,441 — 137th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.6% — 59th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 105,162 — 38th lowest of 382 metros

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1. Boulder, CO
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 62.5%
> Adults with a high school diploma: 95.1% — 24th highest of 382 metros
> Median household income: $90,168 — 16th highest of 382 metros
> July 2022 unemployment rate: 2.6% — 59th lowest of 381 metros (tied)
> Total population: 329,543 — 158th highest of 382 metros

Methodology

To identify the most educated big cities in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed educational attainment data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey. Metro areas are ranked by the share of adults 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

Supplemental data on adults with a high school diploma, median household income, and total population are also from the 2021 ACS. 

We also considered July 2022 unemployment rates at the metro area level from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

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