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by Heytutor Blog
I'm an experienced writer with 10+ years writing experience. Topics include; Educations, Politics, Technology & Other

The most educated cities in the U.S.

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Educational attainment in the U.S. is at a record high. As of 2017, 20 percent of adults over the age of 25 were bachelor’s degree holders, and an additional 12 percent of adults went beyond that to earn a graduate or professional degree. Nationwide, Americans have an average of 13.9 years of education, which equates to at least some college or an associate’s degree.

As more people are achieving higher levels of education, the gap in earnings between the least and most educated people is also growing. The median annual earnings in the U.S. for adults over 25 is $40,069, but that number rises to $67,763 for bachelor’s degree holders and $98,369 for graduate/professional degree holders. By contrast, high school graduates earn $38,145 per year, and those who do not finish high school earn just $26,832 annually. With such a wide range in earning potential, education is now more important than ever.

While the number of degree holders has risen in the U.S. overall, educational attainment also varies significantly by location. To determine which U.S. cities have the most educated populations, tutoring firm HeyTutor analyzed education, financial, and demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey. For each city, HeyTutor calculated the average number of years of education for adults over 25. Here’s what they found:


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Takeaways

1) Cities that have fostered and attracted educated populations are benefiting financially with higher wages, home prices, and employment rates. In a self-perpetuating cycle, these factors also make cities more desirable places to live and continue to attract people with higher levels of education.

2) More educated cities tend to have higher wages. Additionally, the most educated cities also tend to have higher home values. Notably, there is a clear positive correlation between average years of education and median home value.

3) More educated cities tend to have lower unemployment rates and higher labor force participation among married couples. The overall unemployment rate in the U.S. is 5.3 percent. However, almost every major city with an unemployment rate under 3 percent also has an education level higher than the national average. Additionally, in 51 percent of married couples nationwide, both the husband and wife work. This percentage tends to increase as educational attainment increases as well.

4) Science and engineering degrees make up a higher proportion of all degrees in more highly educated cities. There is a significant positive correlation between average years of education and the percentage of higher education degrees that are in science and engineering. This is especially true in cities surrounding tech hubs like Silicon Valley and Boston.

5) The most highly educated cities in America are more likely to be on the coasts. They are also more likely to have a significant tech industry presence and have a large number of universities in the surrounding area.

Here are the final rankings of the most educated cities in the U.S.


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The 10 most educated large cities


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10. Denver, CO

  • Average years of education: 14.75 years

  • Adults w/ a bachelor's degree: 30%

  • Adults w/ a graduate or professional degree: 19%

  • Degree holders w/ a STEM degree: 40%

  • Median annual earnings: $46,962

  • Median home value: $395,100

  • Both husband and wife in labor force: 56%

  • Unemployment rate: 3.2%


Denver is the capital city of Colorado and one of the largest cities in the Mountain West region.  Some of the top industries in Denver, like bioscience, IT, aerospace, and financial services, require workers to have a college degree. This city is also home to several universities, including the University of Denver, Johnson & Wales University, and the University of Colorado-Denver. The University of Colorado-Boulder is also a short drive away. At 3.2 percent, Denver has the lowest unemployment rate on this list.



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9. Boston, MA

  • Average years of education: 14.77 years

  • Adults w/ a bachelor's degree: 26%

  • Adults w/ a graduate or professional degree: 22%

  • Degree holders w/ a STEM degree: 45%

  • Median annual earnings: $47,602

  • Median home value: $540,600

  • Both husband and wife in labor force: 58%

  • Unemployment rate: 6.7%


Boston is known for being a city of colleges, with Northeastern University, Boston University, Harvard, and MIT all in close proximity. When you consider Boston’s technical institutes, including Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology and Wentworth Institute of Technology, it’s no surprise that 45 percent of degree holders in Boston specialized in a STEM field. Despite having such a high average education level, Boston also has the highest unemployment rate on this list, at 6.7 percent.



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8. Austin, TX

  • Average years of education: 14.85 years

  • Adults w/ a bachelor's degree: 32%

  • Adults w/ a graduate or professional degree: 19%

  • Degree holders w/ a STEM degree: 39%

  • Median annual earnings: $45,372

  • Median home value: $332,700

  • Both husband and wife in labor force: 56%

  • Unemployment rate: 3.5%


The largest city on this list by population, Austin has become a major hub for technology in the South. Facebook, Google, and Dell have a strong presence in Austin, and the city prides itself on its pro-business climate. Other highly specialized fields like aerospace, clean technology, and data management also dominate the city’s economy. In addition, Austin has several higher education institutions. UT-Austin alone boasts a population of more than 50,000 students, many of whom choose to settle in the region after graduation.



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7. Raleigh, NC

  • Average years of education: 14.90 years

  • Adults w/ a bachelor's degree: 33%

  • Adults w/ a graduate or professional degree: 18%

  • Degree holders w/ a STEM degree: 40%

  • Median annual earnings: $42,112

  • Median home value: $239,700

  • Both husband and wife in labor force: 60%

  • Unemployment rate: 3.5%


Along with Durham and Chapel Hill, Raleigh is part of a region in North Carolina known as the “Research Triangle,” which hosts several of the country’s top universities. The most notable university within Raleigh itself is North Carolina State University, and those within an hour’s drive include Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill. With so many nearby colleges to choose from, it makes sense that one third of residents in Raleigh have earned a bachelor’s degree. Raleigh has the lowest median home value on this list, at $239,700.



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6. Atlanta, GA

  • Average years of education: 14.91 years

  • Adults w/ a bachelor's degree: 28%

  • Adults w/ a graduate or professional degree: 21%

  • Degree holders w/ a STEM degree: 38%

  • Median annual earnings: $45,519

  • Median home value: $299,400

  • Both husband and wife in labor force: 58%

  • Unemployment rate: 6.6%


Atlanta is one of the South’s primary economic centers, with 13 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in this Georgia capital. Georgia State University, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia are just a few of the many higher education institutions located in this city. For the entrepreneurial-minded, Georgia Centers of Innovation (COI) also provides resources for fostering business innovation in the fields of aerospace, energy technology, information technology, logistics, and manufacturing.



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5. Minneapolis, MN

  • Average years of education: 14.91 years

  • Adults w/ a bachelor's degree: 31%

  • Adults w/ a graduate or professional degree: 20%

  • Degree holders w/ a STEM degree: 39%

  • Median annual earnings: $42,119

  • Median home value: $250,400

  • Both husband and wife in labor force: 64%

  • Unemployment rate: 4.2%


Close to Saint Paul, residents in Minneapolis benefit from two major business centers when seeking employment and educational opportunities. Key industries in the Twin Cities region include healthcare, manufacturing, and government. In addition, the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul region is home to more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other region in the world. Among all the cities on this list, Minneapolis has the highest percentage of married couples with both partners in the workforce.



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4. Portland, OR

  • Average years of education: 14.98 years

  • Adults w/ a bachelor's degree: 30%

  • Adults w/ a graduate or professional degree: 20%

  • Degree holders w/ a STEM degree: 40%

  • Median annual earnings: $40,977

  • Median home value: $427,500

  • Both husband and wife in labor force: 57%

  • Unemployment rate: 4.7%


Portland is one of the marquee destinations in the Pacific Northwest for technology companies. Some of Portland’s most prominent industries include clean tech, software, electronics, and health science, all of which require higher education. A few of the city’s major employers include tech giants like Intel Corporation, Google, and Oracle. There are also several colleges and universities in Portland, including Portland State University, the University of Portland, and Concordia University.



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3. San Francisco, CA

  • Average years of education: 15.17 years

  • Adults w/ a bachelor's degree: 35%

  • Adults w/ a graduate or professional degree: 23%

  • Degree holders w/ a STEM degree: 46%

  • Median annual earnings: $65,451

  • Median home value: $1,104,100

  • Both husband and wife in labor force: 55%

  • Unemployment rate: 3.8%


San Francisco is known for its tech innovation and high cost of living. Situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, the greater San Francisco Bay Area hosts the headquarters of Google, Apple, Salesforce, Twitter, and Uber. The city and its surrounding area is also home to multiple universities, including Stanford, UC Berkeley, and San Francisco State. San Francisco has the highest median annual salary on this list at $65,451. However, San Francisco also has the highest median home value on this list.



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2. Washington, DC

  • Average years of education: 15.61 years

  • Adults w/ a bachelor's degree: 24%

  • Adults w/ a graduate or professional degree: 33%

  • Degree holders w/ a STEM degree: 49%

  • Median annual earnings: $61,641

  • Median home value: $607,200

  • Both husband and wife in labor force: 62%

  • Unemployment rate: 6.6%


Washington D.C. is home to more than just politicians. Security technology, hospitality, and data science are some of the other industries benefiting the local economy. Washington D.C. is also home to several prestigious colleges, including Georgetown University and American University. In Washington D.C., one-third of adults have a graduate or professional degree, the highest percentage on this list. In addition, 49 percent of degree holders have a STEM degree, also the highest percentage on this list.



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1. Seattle, WA

  • Average years of education: 15.75 years

  • Adults w/ a bachelor's degree: 36%

  • Adults w/ a graduate or professional degree: 27%

  • Degree holders w/ a STEM degree: 46%

  • Median annual earnings: $59,167

  • Median home value: $673,100

  • Both husband and wife in labor force: 59%

  • Unemployment rate: 4.0%


At 36 percent, Seattle has the highest percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree on this list. Career opportunities are available in a wide variety of industries such as global health, IT, and green technology. A few of the country’s largest businesses, including Starbucks, Costco, and Amazon, are also headquartered in or around Seattle. For those looking to apply their education to a new business venture, Seattle boasts a number of accelerators and incubators to support the development of startups and small businesses.

Methodology & full results

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. For each city, an “average years of education” statistic was calculated for the population 25 years and over. The statistic is based on the number of adults in each educational attainment group tracked by Census. Educational attainment groups range from “Less than 9th grade” up to “Graduate or professional degree.” Each educational attainment group was assigned a typical number of years required to achieve it, which was used in the calculation. Cities are ranked by their respective years of education. Rounded values are shown, but ranks correspond to unrounded values.

All other statistics are provided directly by Census. With the exception of “median home value” and the “percentage of married couples with both partners in the labor force,” all data is for the population 25 years and over. Median earnings is also limited to the population with earnings.

Only cities with a population greater than 100,000 were included in the analysis. Cities were grouped into the following categories based on population, and only large cities were included in the final list of items.

  • Large cities: more than 350,000 people

  • Midsize cities: 150,000 - 350,000 people

  • Small cities: 100,000 - 150,000 people



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