The 10 Most Educated States in 2020

More and more people are seeking higher education. March of 2011 was a significant time for education in the U.S., because for the first time ever, more than 30 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 25 became bachelor’s degree holders. Just eleven short years before that — in the year 2000 — this percentage figure was at 24.4%. This was a substantial increase over such a short time period.

People are not only obtaining more and more bachelor’s degrees, either. From 2009 to 2010, the percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some kind of post-secondary degree (an associate’s, bachelor’s, etc.) rose from 38.8% to 39.3% — half a percentage point. Here is a state by state breakdown, indicating the percentage of each state’s population that holds some kind of post-secondary degree as of 2010.

By Erika Rawes//Data Source: US Census Bureau

By Erika Rawes, Data Source: US Census Bureau

In spite of these numbers, America is still not number one in the world for the percentage of adults with college degrees. According to an OECD report, “In 2012, 43% of 25 [to] 64 year-olds in the United States had attained a tertiary education — the fifth largest proportion after Canada (53%), Israel (46%), Japan (47%), and the Russian Federation (53%), and higher than the OECD average of 32%.”

So, as a country, we may not consistently be the most educated in the world in terms of college degree attainment. But, some of our states have exceptionally high levels of success in this department. Policymakers continue to take measures to work toward getting us to the top of the list and keeping us there. Data published by the Department of Education indicates “to be first in the world in the proportion of college graduates with an associate’s degree or higher, the U.S. must increase the national attainment rate by 50 percent from its current (2010) level by 2020. This would lift the nation as a whole to a 60 percent college attainment rate. While some states with low college attainment rates will need to at least double their attainment rates, states with higher attainment rates are nearer to the national attainment goal of 60 percent and thus do not need as much of an increase.”

The department used this methodology to project educational attainment in 2020. Check out this list of the most educated states. It contains data on educational attainment and hopeful future projections for 2020. All of the data comes from the Census Bureau’s most recent reports and from the Department of Education.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

1. Washington D.C.

  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some type of college education in 2010: 68.8%
  • Number of graduates in 2010: 82,098
  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds we hope will hold some type of college degree in 2020: Between 60% and 98%
  • Projected hopeful number of graduates in 2020: Between 54,000 and 88,000

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Massachusetts

  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some type of college education in 2010: 54.3%
  • Number of graduates in 2010: 454,219
  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds we hope will hold some type of college degree in 2020: Between 60% and 81%
  • Projected hopeful number of graduates in 2020: Between 562,000 and 760,000

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) North Dakota

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

3. North Dakota

  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some type of college education in 2010: 50.8%
  • Number of graduates in 2010: 43,893
  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds we hope will hold some type of college degree in 2020: Between 60% and 76%
  • Projected hopeful number of graduates in 2020: Between 46,000 and 58,000

Source: Elkman / Wikimedia Commons

Source: Elkman / Wikimedia Commons

4. Minnesota

  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some type of college education in 2010: 49.8%
  • Number of graduates in 2010: 350,909
  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds we hope will hold some type of college degree in 2020: Between 60% and 74%
  • Projected hopeful number of graduates in 2020: Between 488,000 and 599,000

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

5. New York

  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some type of college education in 2010: 49.6%
  • Number of graduates in 2010: 1,302,196
  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds we hope will hold some type of college degree in 2020: Between 60% and 74%
  • Projected hopeful number of graduates in 2020: Between 1,670,000 and 2,050,000

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

6. New Jersey

  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some type of college education in 2010: 47.2%
  • Number of graduates in 2010: 520,299
  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds we hope will hold some type of college degree in 2020: Between 60% and 69%
  • Projected hopeful number of graduates in 2020: Between 751,000 and 864,000

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

7. New Hampshire

  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some type of college education in 2010: 46%
  • Number of graduates in 2010: 65,715
  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds we hope will hold some type of college degree in 2020: Between 60% and 69%
  • Projected hopeful number of graduates in 2020: Between 122,000 and 139,000

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

8. Connecticut

  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some type of college education in 2010: 45.9%
  • Number of graduates in 2010: 190,044
  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds we hope will hold some type of college degree in 2020: Between 60% and 69%
  • Projected hopeful number of graduates in 2020: Between 295,000 and 339,000

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

9. Maryland

  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some type of college education in 2010: 45.5%
  • Number of graduates in 2010: 339,891
  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds we hope will hold some type of college degree in 2020: Between 60% and 68%
  • Projected hopeful number of graduates in 2020: Between 582,000 and 660,000

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

10. Iowa

  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with some type of college education in 2010: 45.5%
  • Number of graduates in 2010: 172,115
  • Percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds we hope will hold some type of college degree in 2020: Between 60% and 68%
  • Projected hopeful number of graduates in 2020: Between 213,000 and 241,000

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