10 Most Educated States in The U.S.

Last updated on December 18th, 2023 at 07:53 pm


With less than a million population, the District of Columbia is the highest percentage of educated graduates with at least a first degree in the U.S., thanks to the government for making education a fundamental human right.

The District of Columbia is followed by Massachusetts, Colorado, Vermont, and New Jersey as the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively.

Surprisingly, none of the 10 most populated states made the list of most educated states in the U.S except New York at no. 10.


What is the population of the US Compared to Number of Degree Holders?

The 2021 estimate put the population of the United States at 331.9 million, according to data on the U.S Census Bureau.

Out of that 331.9 million people, over 30% of the American population aged 25 and above boast of a Bachelor’s degree, while an impressive 90% have a high school diploma.

most educated states in the US

This means that at least 99.5 million Americans out of 331,893,745 aged 25 and above have at least Bachelor’s Degree.

Which States Are the Most Educated in the US?

1) District of Columbia

  • Number of colleges and universities: 20
  • 2021 Population estimates: 670,050
  • No. of Bachelor’s Degree holder aged 25 and above: 422,131

Washington, DC is regarded as the most educated in the United States despite its low small population.

According to USA FACTS, the state boasts of having the highest number of Americans with a bachelor’s degree or higher (63% of the residents have at least a Bachelor’s degree).

The state is pretty formidable when it comes to the offering of STEM majors, and there is a huge job market with constant opportunities created by global companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and so on.

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Also worthy to note is that Washington, DC had witnessed the biggest growth in the rate of people getting their bachelor’s degrees between 2010 and 2021 (a 12%+ point increase).

2) Massachusetts

  • Number of colleges and universities: 114
  • 2021 Population estimates: 6,984,723
  • No. of Bachelor’s Degree holder aged 25 and above: 3,254,881

Massachusetts has 46.6% of its residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher. The government has been proactive when it comes to education.

When it comes to quality of education, Massachusetts has put in place reasonable frameworks to ensure its residents get nothing devoid of excellence.

The state is home to great institutions like MIT, Harvard, etc. The effects of the quality of education in Massachusetts are glaring by the manner its residents are empowered to perform in high-paying jobs.

3) Colorado

  • Number of colleges and universities: More than 100
  • 2021 Population estimates: 5,812,069
  • No. of Bachelor’s Degree holder aged 25 and above: 2,580,559

Colorado is the third most educate U.S states with 44.4% of the population who are 25 years+ have  a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

4) Vermont

  • Number of colleges and universities: 22
  • 2021 Population estimates: 645,570
  • No. of Bachelor’s Degree holder aged 25 and above: 286,633

By population, the State of Vermont is the second smallest states, but using the percentage of Bachelor’s Degree holders, Vermont is the 4th US states with highest education level.

Between 2010 and 2021, Vermont saw an increase in the rate of people getting their bachelor’s degrees (a 10.8-percent point increase), according to data from USA Facts.

The University of Vermont is the largest higher education institute here, with a reasonable reputation in the country.

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5) New Jersey

  • Number of colleges and universities: 80
  • 2021 Population estimates: 9,267,130
  • No. of Bachelor’s Degree holder aged 25 and above: 3,994,133

New Jersey is also a very educated state in the United States of America. 43.1% of the population (25 years+) have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

6) Maryland

  • Number of colleges and universities: 55
  • 2021 Population estimates: 6,165,129
  • No. of Bachelor’s Degree holder aged 25 and above: 2,620,180

Maryland also belongs to this top class. Some 42.5% percent of its residents have at least a Bachelor’s degree and the state itself ranked favorably well when it comes to Quality of Education.

7) Connecticut

  • Number of colleges and universities: 44
  • 2021 Population estimates: 3,605,597
  • No. of Bachelor’s Degree holder aged 25 and above: 1,517,956

In Connecticut, 42.1% of the residents are Bachelor’s degree holders. The education sector trained workers for its flourishing sectors – including bioscience, digital media, financial services, etc.

8) Virginia

  • Number of colleges and universities: 129
  • 2021 Population estimates: 8,642,274
  • No. of Bachelor’s Degree holder aged 25 and above: 3,612,471

9) New Hampshire

  • Number of colleges and universities: Over 20
  • 2021 Population estimates: 1,388,992
  • No. of Bachelor’s Degree holder aged 25 and above: 558,375

10) New York

  • Number of colleges and universities: More than 130
  • 2021 Population estimates: 19,835,913
  • No. of Bachelor’s Degree holder aged 25 and above: 7,914,529

Among the most populated states, only New York (the 4th by population with lost of business opportunities) makes the top 10 list of most educated state.

Notably, New York is among US states with the highest number of colleges and universities.

The table below shows the ranking of the most educated states in the US:

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RankingState/Territory% of Degree Holders2021 Population
1District of Columbia63%670,050
3Colorado44.4%5.812 million
5New Jersey43.1%9.267 million
6Maryland42.5%6.165 million
7Connecticut42.1%3.606 million
8Virginia41.8%8.642 million
9New Hampshire40.2%1.389 million
10New York39.9%8.468 million
11Washington39.0%7.739 million
12Minnesota38.9%5.707 million
13Illinois37.1%12.67 million
14Utah36.8%3.338 million
15Rhode Island36.5%1.096 million
16Oregon36.3%4.246 million
17California36.2%39.24 million
18Maine36.0%1.372 million
19Delaware35.6%1.003 million
20Kansas35.4%2.935 million
21Hawaii35.3%1.442 million
22North Carolina34.9%10.55 million
23Montana34.8%1.104 million 
24Georgia34.6%10.8 million
25Pennsylvania34.5%12.96 million
26Nebraska34.4%1.964 million
27Florida33.2%21.78 million
28Texas33.1%29.53 million
30Wisconsin32.5%5.896 million
31Arizona32.4%7.276 million
32North Dakota31.7%774,948
33Missouri31.7%6.168 million
34Michigan31.7%10.05 million
35South Dakota31.7%895,376
36South Carolina31.5%5.191 million
37Ohio30.7%11.78 million
38Idaho30.7%1.901 million
39Iowa30.5%3.193 million
40Tennessee30.5%6.975 million
41New Mexico30.1%2.116 million
43Indiana28.9%6.806 million
44Oklahoma27.9%3.987 million
45Nevada27.6%3.144 million
46Alabama27.4%5.04 million
47Kentucky27.0%4.509 million
48Louisiana26.4%4.624 million
49Arkansas25.3%3.026 million 
50Mississippi24.8%2.95 million
51West Virginia24.1%1.783 million
Source: U.S Census Bureau (Educational Attainment)

Top 10 Least Educated US States

On the flip side, West Virginia had the lowest number of residents with a bachelor’s degree despite having nice universities like the University of Virginia, James Madison University, and the rest.

Mississippi’s 2.95 million population also only managed 24.8% of Degree holder or higher, followed by Arkansas (25.3%).

In Louisiana, only 26.4% of its residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher despite having over 11 four-year colleges.

State/Territory% of degree holder aged 25 and above
West Virginia24.1%

What is the percentage of Americans with less than higher school diploma?

The available data also shows that some states more people with less than high school diploma than the rest. They are:

California (15.5%)

Apart from being the most populated US state, California also has the highest number of its residents with less than high school diploma.

6,081,865 out of 39,237,836 of California residents have less than high school.

Texas (14.6%)

The second most populated state has at least 4.3 million of its population with less than high school diploma. The state’s 2021 population estimates was 29,527,941.

RankingState/Territory  % of Less Than Higher School Diploma
2Maine  5.5%
4New Hampshire  5.6%
6North Dakota6.3% 
9Wisconsin 6.7%
10Alaska 6.7%
12South Dakota6.9%
14District of Columbia7.2%
30New Jersey 9%
35North Carolina10.3%
36South Carolina10.4%
37Rhode Island10.9%
40West Virginia11.1%
41Arkansas  11.3%
43New York12%
46New Mexico12.5%


Finally, the rate of Americans who are adequately educated keeps soaring impressively.

Above all, the states with the highest Bachelor’s Degree holders aged 25 and above are the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Colorado, Vermont, and New Jersey.

On the other hand, West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky belong to the list of states with the least percentage of college graduates.


  • Opeyemi Quadri

    Ope is a finance writer and researcher with 10+ years of experience in content creation. His interests cut across decentralized finance, investment, foreign exchange, government policies and politics.

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