Where Are the Most Educated Communities?

New census data shows areas of the country achieving the highest levels of educational attainment. View our data to see how your area compares.
by Mike Maciag | October 10, 2011 AT 3:30 PM

An educated workforce plays a key role in a region’s economic growth.

Along with higher pay, college graduates are more likely to retain employment than their peers. The 2010 unemployment rate for workers with bachelor’s degrees was nearly half that of those not attending college, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Educational attainment is one of the many demographics measured in the U.S Census Bureau’s recently-released 2010 American Community Survey.

The survey found an estimated 85.6 percent of the U.S. adults 25 and older had graduated high school. Of those, about 28 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Boulder, Colo., topped the list of most educated metro areas, with 57.5 percent of its residents holding bachelor’s degrees. The city is home to the University of Colorado, and its major employers include IBM and other high-tech companies.

Not surprisingly, many areas with the most college graduates are college towns.

Washington, D.C., with its concentration of government employees and working professionals, reported the highest concentration of college graduates of any major metro area.

Here are the top 10 most educated metro areas, according to the census survey:

Metro area Percent with bachelor's degree or higher Total 25+ population
Boulder, CO Metropolitan Area 57.5 189,808
Ithaca, NY Metropolitan Area 53.4 58,429
Ann Arbor, MI Metropolitan Area 50.4 215,366
Lawrence, KS Metropolitan Area 49.9 61,443
Columbia, MO Metropolitan Area 49 98,964
Ames, IA Metropolitan Area 48.4 48,256
Corvallis, OR Metropolitan Area 48 50,386
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Area 46.8 3,757,454
Fort Collins-Loveland, CO Metropolitan Area 45.8 193,293
Iowa City, IA Metropolitan Area 45.6 92,452

The Hanford-Corcoran, Calif., metro area reported the lowest educational attainment. Only 11 percent of its residents 25 and older had completed a four-year degree, according to census data.

To see how your area compares, select it in the menu below. Data includes all metropolitan and micropolitan areas in the U.S.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey