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Most Educated States 2021

Education is a strong force in the development of nations and is seen as a vital human right. According to the Global Partnership for Education, education boosts economic growth, ends poverty, promotes gender equality, and promotes peace. Additionally, education is essential for achieving the 17 Global Goals, which are set out to achieve sustainable development, end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet by 2030.

Education is the best way for people to decrease their chances of unemployment, increase their earning potential, and meet their career goals.

In the United States, 90% of the population over the age of 25 have a high school diploma and 34% have a Bachelor’s degree. The national education budget in 2016-2017 was $1.3 trillion, the majority of which came from state and local governments. The US spends more on education than any other country in the world. Education in the United States includes public schools, private schools, and approved homeschooling.

State governments set education standards. Depending on the state, education is compulsory over an age range starting between five and eight up until between ages sixteen and eighteen. Additionally, states typically mandate standardized tests for K-12 public school systems.

Education varies between all 50 states in both educational attainment and quality of education. WalletHub compared these two dimensions using 20 different metrics that were given a score of 0 to 100, 100 being the “most educated.” These metrics include the share of adults over 25 years old with a high school diploma/some college/at least a Bachelor’s degree/etc., quality of school system, public high school graduation rate, enrolled students in top universities, public college graduation rate, and more. Each state’s weighted average across all metrics was then determined in order to rank the states.

1. Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the most educated state in the U.S. with a total score of 80.0. Massachusetts ranks first for both educational attainment and quality of education. Home to MIT, Harvard, and other top institutions, Massachusetts has the highest percentage of Bachelor’s degree holders at 42.1% of adults and graduate or professional degree holders at about 32.4%. Massachusetts also has the highest average university quality. Massachusetts residents’ high levels of education allow them to perform in high-paying jobs, resulting in the state having one of the highest median household incomes in the country.

2. Maryland

Maryland is the second-most educated state in the country. Maryland ranks third for educational attainment, with 39.6% of residents having at least a Bachelor’s degree and 17.6% having a graduate or professional degree, the second-highest percentage in the country. Maryland also ranks second for the quality of education. Thanks to the high education levels in the state, Maryland residents are able to attain the high-paying jobs available in Washington D.C.

3. Colorado

The third-most educated state in the U.S. is Colorado. Colorado’s educational attainment rank is second, with the highest percentage of associate’s degree holders or college-experienced adults and the second-highest percentage of Bachelor’s degree holders. 39.4% of Colorado adults have at least a Bachelor’s degree and 30.2% have an associate’s degree or some college experience.

4. Vermont

Vermont is the fourth-most educated state in the United States. Vermont ranks fifth for educational attainment and eighth for quality of education. Vermont is tied with Alaska for the fifth-highest percentage of high school diploma holders of 92.3%. The University of Vermont is the state’s largest higher education institute and the university’s medical center is the state’s top employer.

5. Connecticut

Connecticut is the fifth-most educated state. Connecticut ranks fourth for educational attainment and ninth for quality of education rank. Connecticut ranks fourth for the highest percentage of Bachelor’s degree holders at 38.9% and third for the highest percentage of graduate or professional degree holders at 17.0%. Some of the most popular industries in Connecticut are digital media, bioscience, financial services, and insurance.

6. Virginia

The sixth-most educated state in the U.S. is Virginia, which ranks seventh for educational attainment and sixth for quality of education. Virginia has the fourth-highest percentage of graduate or professional degree holders in the country at 16.1%. Some of the best universities in Virginia are the University of Virginia, James Madison University, the College of William & Mary, and Virginia Tech.

7. Washington

Washington is the seventh-most educated state in the United States. Washington ranks ninth for education attainment and tenth for quality of education. Washington has the third-highest percentage of associate degree holders or college-experienced adults. Washington has a lot to offer for STEM majors with a large job market that includes companies like Microsoft and Amazon. S

8. New Hampshire

New Hampshire is the eighth-most educated state in the country and ranks sixth for educational attainment, having the second-highest percentage of high school diploma holders. New Hampshire has one of the best high-tech industries in the country, as well as large biotech and medical research industries. New Hampshire also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States of 2.6%.

9. New Jersey

New Jersey is the ninth-most educated state in the U.S. New Jersey ranks tenth for educational attainment and fifth for quality of education. New Jersey is tied with Connecticut for the fourth-highest percentage of adults with a Bachelor’s degree at 38.9%. Some of New Jersey’s largest industries include information and technology (home to over 5,000 information and technology companies), pharmaceutical, and biotech. New Jersey is home to great universities, such as Princeton University, Rutgers University, and The College of New Jersey.

10. Minnesota

Finishing the top ten most-educated states is Minnesota. Minnesota ranks eighth or educational attainment with the fourth-highest percentage of high school diploma holders at 93.0% and fourth for the highest percentage of associate’s degree holders or college-experienced adults at 32.6%. Minnesota is home to Fortune 500 companies such as 3M, General Mills, Target, and United Health Group, as well as The Mayo Clinic, one of the state’s largest employers.

Here are the 10 states with the highest education scores:

  1. Massachusetts (80.06)
  2. Maryland (73.21)
  3. Vermont (70.07)
  4. Connecticut (68.22)
  5. Colorado (67.97)
  6. Virginia (66.98)
  7. New Hampshire (66.32)
  8. Minnesota (65.57)
  9. Utah (64.53)
  10. Washington (63.77)

Most Educated States 2021


Most Educated States 2021

State Education Score Education Attainment Rank Education Quality Rank
New Hampshire66.32520
New Jersey62.931010
New York56.731812
Rhode Island52.952513
North Dakota52.022223
North Carolina46.033226
South Dakota44.122943
New Mexico36.323845
South Carolina34.773946
West Virginia21.025042

Most Educated States 2021