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Massachusetts
93.9
Connecticut
73.8
Maryland
72.8
Virginia
72.5
Vermont
72.2
New Hampshire
70.5
New Jersey
69.5
Colorado
69.4
Minnesota
67
Washington
60.3
Nebraska
57.8
New York
57.8
Maine
55.8
Kansas
55.5
Utah
55.5
Pennsylvania
52.4
Oregon
52
Montana
51.9
Illinois
51.4
Rhode Island
50.5
Wyoming
49.3
Wisconsin
48.5
North Dakota
48.4
Delaware
46.8
Ohio
46.7
Iowa
46.2
Missouri
45
Michigan
43.8
Alaska
43.1
Hawaii
43.1
South Dakota
43.1
North Carolina
40.7
Georgia
40.2
California
40
Idaho
36.8
Indiana
36.8
Arizona
35.9
Tennessee
34.2
Florida
32.4
Kentucky
30.5
South Carolina
28
Texas
23.9
Alabama
22.4
Oklahoma
22.4
New Mexico
20.4
Nevada
20
Arkansas
19.1
Louisiana
15.2
Mississippi
13.3
West Virginia
12.6

Smartest States 2024

Smartest States 2024

It’s important to know that income has an enormous impact on educational data. States with high numbers of higher-income families generally have higher-quality education systems and more people attending college. This, in turn, allows people to get higher-paying jobs, creating a cycle of access to higher education and higher-paying jobs.

Here are other factors that may affect students’ academic achievement that could vary by state and within states: overall socioeconomic status of the state or city/area within the state; percentage of students who are learning English as a second language; class and curriculum structure, which is usually mandated by the state, norms and regulations that determine the school environment, and standard testing requirements. On an individual level, the following can also affect student performance: parental/family habits and involvement, family issues and instability, classmate relationships, teacher behavior and teaching methods, and whether or not the holistic needs of students are met.

Determining the Intelligence of Each State

The intelligence of each state can be ranked using the following measures: IQ scores, SAT scores, ACT scores, and the percentage of college graduates in each state. An intelligence score is created for each state by determining the percentage-point difference between a state’s score and the national median score. Positive scores indicate that the state’s score was above the national median and negative scores indicate that the state’s score was below. Each state’s IQ value was doubled when the scores were added up.

Smartest States in the U.S.

While the data shows that some states are “smarter” than others, no one should treat residents of the “dumber” states as inferior. As previously mentioned above, many factors impact the quality of and level of education residents receive. These factors may be out of the population's control or not things that can immediately be changed.

The ten smartest states in the United States are: Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Kansas, Vermont, Iowa, New Jersey, and Colorado. The smartest states in the U.S. are located in the Northeast, Midwest, and West. Massachusetts is the smartest state in the U.S. 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%. Additionally, Massachusetts is home to MIT, Harvard, and several other high-ranked institutions. Massachusetts also has one of the highest household incomes in the state, allowing for more access to higher education.

Minnesota, the second-smartest state in the nation, consistently has the best SAT scores in the country, especially in math. The average SAT score in Minnesota is 1284. New Hampshire has impressive ACT scores, ranking second for the highest median ACT scores in the U.S. at 25.0. New Hampshire also has the fifth-lowest pupil-to-teacher ratio in the country. A low pupil-to-teacher ratio helps students succeed as they receive more individual attention in the classroom.

As mentioned above, a state's median household income and overall economic status significantly impact educational quality and attainment Of the ten smartest states in the U.S., nine are above the national median of $63,179: Massachusetts ($86,345), Minnesota ($71,817), New Hampshire ($81,346), Connecticut ($72,812), Kansas ($63,938), Vermont ($70,006), Iowa ($68,718), New Jersey ($74,176), and Colorado ($73,034).

Smartest States 2024

  • The Penn Stakes measure of state-level intelligence compiles several intelligence- and education-based metrics: average IQ score; the percentage of a state's population with a high school diploma, bachelor's, or advanced degree; and SAT and ACT scores. Higher scores are preferable.

Download Table Data

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State
Penn Stakes
Average IQ
Massachusetts93.9104.3
Connecticut73.8103.1
Maryland72.899.7
Virginia72.5101.9
Vermont72.2103.8
New Hampshire70.5104.2
New Jersey69.5102.8
Colorado69.4101.6
Minnesota67103.7
Washington60.3101.9
Nebraska57.8102.3
New York57.8100.7
Maine55.8103.4
Kansas55.5102.8
Utah55.5101.1
Pennsylvania52.4101.5
Oregon52101.2
Montana51.9103.4
Illinois51.499.9
Rhode Island50.599.5
Wyoming49.3102.4
Wisconsin48.5102.9
North Dakota48.4103.8
Delaware46.8100.4
Ohio46.7101.8
Iowa46.2103.2
Missouri45101
Michigan43.8100.5
Alaska43.199
Hawaii43.195.6
South Dakota43.1102.8
North Carolina40.7100.2
Georgia40.298
California4095.5
Idaho36.8101.4
Indiana36.8101.7
Arizona35.997.4
Tennessee34.297.7
Florida32.498.4
Kentucky30.599.4
South Carolina2898.4
Texas23.9100
Alabama22.495.7
Oklahoma22.499.3
New Mexico20.495.7
Nevada2094.5
Arkansas19.197.5
Louisiana15.295.3
Mississippi13.394.2
West Virginia12.698.7
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Sources