The Most and Least Educated Cities in the United States

Education plays a pivotal role in determining the economic and social well-being of a city, with higher levels of education linked to increased incomes, reduced unemployment, and heightened innovation. Nevertheless, educational access and opportunities vary across cities in the United States. This article explores the educational landscape of the country, examining indicators of educational attainment to identify the most and least educated cities.

Evaluating Education Levels

Cities’ education levels can be gauged through various methods. One common approach involves assessing the percentage of individuals who have completed specific educational levels, such as high school, some college, or a bachelor’s degree or higher. Alternatively, an education index, combining factors like the percentage of people with less than a high school diploma, high school graduates, some college education, and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, offers a comprehensive overview. A higher index denotes a more educated city.

Utilizing these methods, we can rank cities based on the 2017 census data for populations aged 25 to 36, drawing information from Bing search results.

Most Educated Cities in the United States

As per web search results, the most educated city in the United States is Ann Arbor, Michigan, scoring an impressive 92.57 out of 100. Home to the University of Michigan, a leading public research university, Ann Arbor boasts a high percentage of individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher (55.99%) and a low percentage of those with less than a high school diploma (3.92%).

Other highly-ranked cities include San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California; Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV; San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, California; and Madison, Wisconsin. Known for technology, innovation, and political influence, these cities harbor significant concentrations of highly educated professionals.

Cities like Corvallis, Oregon; Ames, Iowa; and Boulder, Colorado rank high on the education index, emphasizing their strong community college systems or sizable student populations.

Least Educated Cities in the United States

Conversely, the least educated city in the United States is Dalton, Georgia, with a total score of 404.69 out of 100². Recognized as the “carpet capital of the world,” Dalton’s manufacturing sector coexists with a high percentage of individuals lacking a high school diploma (35.70%) and a low percentage with a bachelor’s degree or higher (13.48%).

Other low-ranking cities include Merced, California; McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas; Visalia-Porterville, California; and Salinas, California. Situated in rural or agricultural areas, these cities have substantial immigrant and low-income populations, facing barriers to accessing education.

Cities like Laredo, Texas; Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas; and Madera, California rank low on the education index, suggesting a prevalence of high school diploma holders but limited opportunities for some college education.


Education profoundly influences the economic and social outcomes of a city. Disparities in education levels across U.S. cities underscore the need for examining various indicators of educational attainment. This approach helps identify cities with varying education levels and provides insights into the factors influencing these outcomes.


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