Top 5 Most Educated American Cities (2023)

Many factors, such as macroeconomics (boom time or bust times), and government policies (extended unemployment benefits, stimulus checks), go into the supply vs. demand for great talent. Whether there is a war for talentor there are more applicants than jobs – companies will always want the best possible recruits. The key is to be where the labor pool is most educated. Thus, it is wise for companies looking to source great talent to go straight to the lion's den and meet their preferred workforces where they're at.

As per a recent report by WalletHub, the Top 5 Most Educated Cities in the United States were identified from a list of the 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. They scored municipalities on the:

  • The average level of educational attainment
  • Share of adults with a high school diploma
  • Percentage of associate’s degree
  • Percentage of graduate or professional degrees

What do these cities have in common? Aside from being some of the country's most prosperous and economically vibrant areas, they all boast high concentrations of college degree holders and residents with graduate degrees.This is good news for companies looking to locate their real estate in areas with an abundance of highly educated workers.And in the talent war, businesses need to consider the best methods to source talent and one way is to follow where there is education.

In fact, the study's authors suggest that "the pursuit of higher education can indeed make all the difference" when it comes to finding top talent. Each of these cities has something unique to offer businesses looking for a well-educated workforce. So read on to learn more about America's most educated cities and what separates them from the rest.

1. Ann Arbor, MI

2. San Jose, CA

3. Washington, D.C.

4. Madison, WI

5. San Francisco, CA

(Video) Top 5 Most Educated Cities in the U.S. (2022)

1. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan, is known for its top-notch schools and universities. The educational attainment is unmatched by other American metro areas. The city has the most professional degree holders in the country, at 93%. The Ann Arbor, MI metro area also has the country's highest percentage of bachelor's degree holders (aged 25 and above). With so many educated people in one place, Ann Arbor will surely have the talent you're looking for.

Top 5 Most Educated American Cities (1)

What makes Ann Arbor so unique is that it is not just a city of educated professionals, but it also has a thriving economy. The city's link to the University of Michigan is what dominates the local economy. The university is the source of some 30,000 workers and nearly 50,000 students. As a result, it is a haven for advanced education.

In addition to its many professionals who have earned advanced degrees, Ann Arbor is also home to many businesses and startups. This makes the city a great place to live if you want to be surrounded by highly educated people.

2. San Jose, California

Sunnyvale and Santa Clara are home to many high-tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook. This region is known for its many engineers and software developers who have earned associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees, and graduate degrees from major reputable universities.

Top 5 Most Educated American Cities (2)

As a result, it should come as no surprise that the San Jose Sunnyvale Santa Clara region appears on our list of most educated cities in America. It boasts incredible educational attainment, as 82% of the city's residents have a bachelor's degree or higher. And when you look at the surrounding area, it's no secret why. It is known for its esteemed schools and universities, including Stanford University (which is in Palo Alto, just south of Sunnyvale), San Jose State University, and the University of Silicon Valley. San Jose's students, graduates, and access to higher education contribute to its reputation for high-tech innovation. The metro area also has one of the most educated populations in the country, and this talent is highly sought after.

3. Washington, D.C. / Arlington, Virginia

Washington, D.C., is next on our list of educated cities. It is home to some of the most prestigious schools in the country, including Georgetown University, Howard University, and American University. The city has the country's highest percentage of graduate or professional degree holders, at 70%. Additionally, Washington, D.C., has the third-highest percentage of bachelor's degree holders (aged 25 and above) in the country.

Are you surprised? The Washington Arlington Alexandria area is essentially the country's brain trust. Major employers range from politics to airspace and defense. They're reaching into one of the country's best and brightest talent pools.

Top 5 Most Educated American Cities (3)

With so many highly educated residents, it's no wonder Washington D.C. is one of the most prosperous cities in the country. The presence of many talented and ambitious individuals has helped make the D.C. area a hotbed for innovation and economic growth. If you're looking for a city with plenty of opportunities for career growth and intellectual enrichment, then Washington, D.C., is undoubtedly a place worth considering!

(Video) 2022's Most Educated Cities in America

4. Madison, Wisconsin

With nearly 81% ofits population having attended or graduated from college, this "City of Four Lakes" is a wonderful place for students and scholars alike. Madison is also known for its expanding tech sector and healthcare industry, making it a great place to live and work.

Top 5 Most Educated American Cities (4)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is the city's primary employer, so it's no wonder that Madison ranks 4th on our list of most educated American cities. In fact, Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the country's leading research universities.

The university produces a large number of graduates each year who are ready to enter the workforce. Additionally, Madison Area Technical College provides residents with access to quality technical and trade education. So, not only will you be in the most educated city, but you'll also be supported by a strong technical talent pool. The city has a wealth of educated workers and a skilled labor force to offer.

5. San Francisco / Berkley, California

San Francisco has long been known as a place for people with high education and talent. Besides being one of the most robust tech hubs in the world, it is the fifth most educated city in the United States. It presents an excellent opportunity for companies looking to find skilled and educated professionals. With more than 80% of residents having a bachelor's degree, the SF metropolitan area is a center of culture and learning. An overwhelming number of citizens hold a graduate or professional degree. Why else would businesses brave the high prices and crime of the San Francisco Oakland area?

(Learn The Pros and Cons of Locating Your Business in San Francisco.)

Top 5 Most Educated American Cities (5)

The metropolitan area includes the towns of Oakland and Berkeley, and its status as an education superstar is thanks in part to the many universities located in the Bay Area. Some of the country's biggest and most prestigious universities are located here, including UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and the California College of the Arts. These schools produce leaders in various fields, making this an ideal place for companies looking to find highly educated employees. In addition to the abundance of graduates, the city also has a thriving arts and nightlife scene that makes it an attractive place to live, work, and source talent.

Why Consider Relocating to a Top City for Education?

If you are looking for a place to relocate that will offer you a wealth of opportunities, these cities should be at the top of your list. Their educational attainment is unmatched.

Each of these cities has an incredibly well-educated population and offers the country's best and brightest to companies seeking to strengthen their labor force. Plus, the more that graduates earn, the more tax dollars they contribute over time, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In turn, educated people want to live somewhere where they will get a good return on their educational investment. All these factors make these cities great choices for businesses looking to relocate closer to their optimal talent bases.

Education of the workforce is one of the most important factors in choosing a great workplace, but it is not the only one. Other significant factors are:

(Video) Most Educated Cities in the U.S? / Top 10+1 / Education Guide

  • Safety – what is the crime rate, and where is it trending?
  • Cost of Living – if it costs too much to live there, great talent will move.
  • Quality of Life – it’s not just a big paycheck, it’s what else is there after hours .
  • Taxes Some places, like San Francisco on this list, suffer from very high taxes.
  • Availability of Reasonably Priced Housing – for example, San Francisco median home price is $1.4M
  • Commute Times – Employees no longer want long commutes. Savvy companies take this into consideration.
  • Suburbia vs. Big Cities – they have their pluses and minuses, but oftentimes, suburbia wins out.
  • Where are the migration trends? Many have traded the big city life for smaller towns.

As Tenant Reps at iOptimize Realty®, we constantly identify how businesses can strengthen their commercial real estate. And who can argue that one of the most integral aspects of a space is its location? We've seen firsthand how companies can benefit from locating their CRE in strong talent pools. This works in part because corporate real estate is a powerful recruitment and retention tool. It should never be underestimated in its ability to attract people. To learn more about this phenomenon, read how your CRE can make you a more competitive recruiting force in the talent war.

Want to talk to a Tenant Rep expert about the other factors to consider when relocating? Schedule a meeting today!

Top 5 Most Educated American Cities (6)

Wondering where to begin?

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    Top 5 Most Educated American Cities? ›

    1. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor, Michigan, is known for its top-notch schools and universities. The educational attainment is unmatched by other American metro areas.

    What is the #1 most educated city in America? ›

    1. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor, Michigan, is known for its top-notch schools and universities. The educational attainment is unmatched by other American metro areas.

    What is the #1 educated state? ›

    According to the data, Massachusetts ranks no. 1 on both education attainment and quality of education. The five states with the highest percentage of college degree holders were also the top ten most educated states.

    Which city has the highest education? ›

    Mumbai, Maharashtra: Mumbai, Maharashtra: Mumbai as one of the most populous cities has been a major hub of education for students all around the world.

    Where is the most educated part of America located _______________? ›

    Educational Attainment in the U.S.

    People in states in the Northeast tend to be among the most educated in America, with higher percentages of the population holding higher education degrees, according to a U.S. News analysis.

    What place is USA ranked in education? ›

    Their science scores have been about the same since 2006. The IMD World Competitiveness Center reports that the U.S. ranked 10th in its 2020 Competitiveness Report after ranking first in 2018.

    Where in the US is the most educated? ›

    Most Educated U.S. States
    1. Massachusetts. Massachusetts is the most educated state in the U.S., with a total score of 81.82. ...
    2. Maryland. Maryland is the second-most educated state in the country. ...
    3. Connecticut. Connecticut is the third-most educated state with a score of 72.68. ...
    4. Colorado. ...
    5. Vermont. ...
    6. New Jersey. ...
    7. Virginia. ...
    8. New Hampshire.

    What state is lowest in education? ›

    This ensures a variety of higher-education choices, from large research universities to small specialized institutions. On the other side of the coin, the states with the lowest percentage of bachelor's degrees are West Virginia at 24.1%, Mississippi at 24.8%, and Arkansas at 25.3%.

    What state is ranked 50 in education? ›

    State Rankings
    StateAcademic Performance RankOverall Rank
    South Carolina4149
    47 more rows
    Nov 1, 2019

    What state has the smartest education? ›

    Massachusetts has an average IQ of 104.3, making it the smartest state in the country. New Hampshire is the second smartest state, with an average IQ of 104.2.

    Where do the most educated Americans live? ›

    Educational attainment, adults 25 and older

    Washington, DC is continuously ranked as the most educated region in the country, with 63% of the population receiving a bachelor's degree or higher as of 2021. Massachusetts followed closely with 47% of the population obtaining a bachelor's degree or higher.

    Why are Southern states less educated? ›

    There are many theories as to why the South is home to infamously bad access to education. One frequent assumption is that it relates to a lack of robust institutional infrastructure in the region, while the rest of the country is perceived as more fully supporting its academic system.

    What is the number one city in education? ›

    1. Seattle, WA. At 36 percent, Seattle has the highest percentage of adults with a bachelor's degree on this list.

    Is Seattle the most educated city? ›

    (The Center Square) – The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area is among the top 10 most educated metropolitan statistical areas in the country, according to a new report from WalletHub.

    What city has the lowest education rate? ›

    McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX. The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area was found to have the lowest percentage of citizens with a high school diploma.

    What state has best public schools? ›

    New Jersey topped the list of states with the best public school system, according to a new report from Scholaroo. Findings revealed the Garden State offers the safest environment for its students and has the lowest dropout rate compared with all other states.

    Was the USA ever #1 in education? ›

    As recently as 20 years ago, the United States was ranked No. 1 in high school and college education. Much of the boom in American education during the second half of the 20th century was fueled by the Montgomery G.I.

    Which country has toughest education? ›

    The countries with the hardest and most difficult education systems include South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, etc.

    What nationality is the most educated? ›

    World's Top 10 Countries With the Most Educated Population

    According to the 2022 OECD report on tertiary education, the world's top ten countries with the most educated population and their share of citizens with higher education are as follows: Canada - 59.96 per cent. Japan - 52.68 per cent. Luxembourg 51.31 per cent.

    Who are the most educated immigrants in US? ›

    According to Rice University research, Nigerian Americans are the most educated group in the United States.

    What percent of US is educated? ›

    The percentage of adults in the U. S. between the ages of 25 to 64 with college degrees, certificates, or industry-recognized certifications, has increased from 37.9% in 2009 to 53.7% in 2021, a gain of nearly 16 percentage points.

    What are the bottom 5 states for education? ›

    In last place was West Virginia. It was worst for educational attainment and 47th for quality of education. Also in the bottom five were Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The WalletHub survey compared 18 metrics that examined what it considered the key factors of a well-educated population.

    What state spends the most per student? ›

    StateRankK-12 Spend Per Student
    New Mexico4$9,987
    47 more rows
    Nov 2, 2022

    What state has the highest high school graduation rate? ›

    #StateHigh School Graduation Rate
    3West Virginia91.3%
    47 more rows

    Which state has the best economy? ›

    Overall, in the calendar year 2022, the United States' Nominal GDP at Current Prices totaled at $25.463 Trillion, as compared to $23.315 Trillion in 2021. The three U.S. states with the highest GDPs were California ($3.6 Trillion), Texas ($2.356 Trillion), and New York ($2.053 Trillion).

    Which state has the best healthcare? ›

    Hawaii is the top state for health care in the U.S. It has the best health outcomes in the country, with low preventable death (47 per 100,000 people), diabetes mortality and obesity rates. However, the state ranks fairly low for accessibility (No. 31).

    What states are more educated? ›

    Overall, 89.3% of Americans over the age of 25 had graduated from high school in 2021, with the highest level found in the state of Vermont at 94.5% and the lowest in the state of California at 84.4%.

    Who has the highest IQ? ›

    William James Sidis has the World's Highest IQ. Anywhere from 250 to 300 is his IQ score, almost twice the score of Albert Einstein. At the age of eleven, William famously entered Harvard University, becoming the youngest person to enter. He also claimed to be conversant in 25 languages.

    What school has the highest IQ? ›


    What country has the highest IQ? ›

    Countries by IQ - Average IQ by Country 2023
    4Hong Kong105.37
    96 more rows

    What is the lowest educated city? ›

    When it comes to the bottom of the list, Visalia, California, is the least educated city in the U.S. Brownsville, Texas, was No. 149, followed by McAllen, Texas, Bakersfield, California and Modesto, California.

    Is Ann Arbor the most educated city in the United States? ›

    The city of Ann Arbor ranked No. 1 as the most educated city and Visalia, California, ranked No. 150, as the least educated city.
    Ann Arbor Ranked As Most Educated City In United States, Study...
    • Lansing-East Lansing at No. ...
    • Grand Rapids-Kentwood at No. ...
    • Detroit-Warren-Dearborn at No. ...
    • Flint at No. 127.
    Jul 18, 2022

    What is the least intelligent city in the US? ›

    Here are the top 10 least educated cities, as listed in the study.
    • Visalia, Calif.
    • Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas.
    • McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas.
    • Bakerfield, Calif.
    • Modesto, Calif.
    • Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, N.C.
    • Stockton, Calif.
    • Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas.
    Jul 20, 2022

    What city in the US has the worst illiteracy problem? ›

    Less than one in five adults in Corpus Christi had at least a bachelor's degree in 2012, among the lowest proportions compared with other large cities. Bakersfield was the worst city in the U.S. for its overall reading culture.

    Which state ranks lowest in education? ›

    In last place was West Virginia. It was worst for educational attainment and 47th for quality of education. Also in the bottom five were Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The WalletHub survey compared 18 metrics that examined what it considered the key factors of a well-educated population.

    Why is Ann Arbor so great? ›

    Ann Arbor is a goldilocks town – it's not too big, and it's not too small. Around 120,000 people live in Ann Arbor. Overall, it's straightforward to navigate, and you can get anywhere you want to go in about 20 minutes. You can get downtown in about 10 minutes from the edge of town.

    Why is Ann Arbor famous? ›

    Ann Arbor area is most well-known for its globally-inspired cultural offerings. A long-time artists community, Ann Arbor is home to renowned galleries, museums and arts non-profits, as well as theatrical and musical organizations that offer performances from local, regional, and international artists.

    Why is Ann Arbor so good? ›

    Ann Arbor came out on top of the personal finance outlet's 2021 Best College Towns and Cities in the U.S. list for factors including reasonable cost of living, good academic and work opportunities, and a fun social environment. In addition, WalletHub also ranked A2 as the Most Educated City last year.

    Which state is last in literacy? ›

    Decades of underinvestment in schools, culture battles over bilingual education, and dizzying levels of income inequality have pushed California to the bottom of the pile, making it the least literate state in the nation.

    What is the education capital of the United States? ›

    Over 250,000 students live in Greater Boston at any one time, with 54 colleges to boot. But just how did Boston become the education capital of the world?

    What is the richest city in Seattle? ›

    New census data shows Seattle's highest median household income was in Laurelhurst, at more than $250,000, while the lowest was in the nearby University District, at $21,042.

    What is the 1% in Seattle? ›

    Long told us that to be a 1 percenter in the U.S. in 2016, you had to earn more than $470,000. There were 9,245 of these households in Seattle in 2016. That's three times the national average. But to be even more elite — a top 1 percenter in Seattle — your household had to bring in more than $602,000.

    Is Seattle a nerdy city? ›

    In terms of geek community, Seattle ranked an impressive No. 8.


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