The 7 Most Educated Cities in America

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

We talk about the importance of it over the dinner table with our families, and hear about its improvement or erosion in political debates: Education talk is everywhere.

When people think about “what they want to be,” education requirements are one of the major factors that help them determine the attainability of their goals. And these days, in spite of high student loan payments and default rates, more and more people are still making the decision to attend college.

In 2011, for the first time ever, more than three-in-10 adults over the age of 25 were bachelor’s degree holders. Students will continue to attend college and earn degrees, and by 2021, this number should only increase. According to projections by the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment in degree-granting, post-secondary institutions is expected to increase by 15% between fall 2010 and fall 2021, which should result in a 21% increase in the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred.

Although more and more people are earning degrees, there is still a large degree of disparity across America when it comes to degree attainment. In some cities, like Stanford, Connecticut, more than 90% of residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to data from the research database FindtheBest.

Using data from FindtheBest, we’ve created a list of the most educated cities in America. We understand there is a difference between a city with 10,000 residents, and a city with 100,000 residents, so we broke cities down into two distinct categories — smaller cities and and large cities/metropolitan areas.

Each “smaller city” has a population of at least 10,000, but less than 100,000. Each metropolitan area has a population that’s greater than 100,000. To create the list of the “most educated cities,” we ranked it based on how many residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, and cities and metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of bachelor’s degree holders ranked highest on the list. Check out the most and educated cities on the following pages.

Most educated small cities

7. University Park, Texas: This city has a population of around 23,500, and the bachelor’s degree (or higher) attainment rate is 83.7%. The average public schools rating here is a 90 out of 100.

6. Mountain Brook, Alabama: This city has a population of just over 20,000, and 85.4% of adult residents are bachelor’s degree holders. The public schools rating here is an 85 out of 100.

5. Scarsdale, New York: This city has a population of just over 17,000, and 85.7% of adult residents are bachelor’s degree holders. The public schools rating here is an 83 out of 100.

4. West University Place, Texas: This city has a population of just over 15,000 and the bachelor’s degree attainment rate is 86.5%. The public schools rating here is an 90 out of 100.

3. Short Hills, New Jersey: This city has a population of just under 13,000, and 87.4% of adult residents are bachelor’s degree holders. The public schools rating here is an 78 out of 100, which is still in the “good” range.

2. Winnetka, Illinois: This city has a population of just over 12,000, and 88% of adult residents are bachelor’s degree holders. The public schools rating here is an 80 out of 100.

1. Stanford, California: This city has a population of around 13,500, and amazingly, 93.4% of adult residents are bachelor’s degree holders. The public schools rating here is an impressive 93 out of 100. This is the “most educated” small city.

Most educated metropolitan areas

7. San Jose, California Metropolitan Area: There are roughly 1.84 million residents in San Jose, and the rate of bachelor’s degree attainment (or higher) is 45.3%. This is significantly higher than the national average rate.

6. Columbia, Missouri Metropolitan Area: Around 175,000 people live in Columbia, and the rate of bachelor’s degree attainment is 45.7%.

5. Iowa City Metro in Iowa: The rate of bachelor’s degree attainment is 46.1% in this area, which holds more than 150,000 residents.

4. Lawrence, Kansas Metro Area: The rate of bachelor’s degree attainment here is 48.4%, and the area holds roughly 111,000 people.

3. Ithaca, New York Metro Area: The rate of bachelor’s degree attainment in Ithaca is 49.9%. The area has more than 101,000 residents.

2. Anne Arbor, Michigan Metropolitan Area: In this area with more than 345,000 people, the bachelor’s degree attainment rate is 50.8%.

1. Boulder. Colorado Metro Area: With a population of almost 300,000, Boulder is the most educated metropolitan area. The bachelor’s degree attainment rate is an impressive 58%.

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