Most Educated Cities in America

A formal education certainly isn't the only indicator of a person's intelligence - but it sure doesn't hurt to have one. With this in mind, ValuePenguin set about ranking America's cities in terms of their residents' level of educational attainment.Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau (see our methodology below),we gauged the academic achievement of nearly the 25-and-older population of 3,000 cities in this country, rewarding those with the highest percentage of post-high school degrees earned. Check out the report.

Five Most Educated Cities

These five cities earned our five highest "Education Scores," in part, because of the percentage of their age 25-and-over population holding post-high school degrees. More on our methodology below, but before we get to that, let's take a deeper look at each of the top five.

1. Bethesda, Md.

By the Numbers: Taking the top spot in our rankings, in part because 85% of its population earned a degree of some kind, Bethesda also had the study's second-highest percentage of a population to have earned graduate or professional degrees, at 54.6%.

Did you know: The American Association for Higher Education & Accreditation and The National Education Association are among the related organizations based in nearby Washington, D.C, where many Bethesda-based professionals commute to work.

Choice of Campus: A dozen miles east sits, in College Park, the University of Maryland and its 37,000 students.

Factor

Value

Population (Age 25+)

43,247

Education Score

32

2. Palo Alto, Calif.

By the Numbers: Beat for the top spot by a 0.15 margin in our Education Score, Palo Alto's mark was still 98% lower (and therefore better) than the study's average.

Did you know: Stanford University, ranked as the US News & World Report's fourth best university in 2015, is still the Silicon Valley's most prestigious institution and one of the nation's best. Also, nearby Oakland, Calif., is the second-best big city for teachers, according to our study.

Choice of Campus: Stanford's rival, the University of California at Berkeley, is an hour's drive up the peninsula, and boasts seven Nobel Prize winners among its 1,620 full-time faculty members.

Factor

Value

Population (Age 25+)

46,366

Education Score

32

3. Brookline, Mass.

By the Numbers: Brookline is the first of six Massachusetts cities to crack our study's top 25. Only California (eight) had more representation in the top 25, and no other state had more than two mentions.

Did you know: U.S. president John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline and attended Harvard University three miles north, in nearby Cambridge.

Choice of Campus: Beyond Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology held its first classes in Feb. 1865 and has of the country's highest admission standards.

Factor

Value

Population (Age 25+)

40,820

Education Score

39

4. Newton, Mass.

By the Numbers: Newton, which is Brookline's next-door neighbor to the west, bested McLean, Va., for this fourth spot only after we adjusted for population.

Did you know: Actor Matt Damon, who sneaked his way into MIT in the movie "Good Will Hunting," lived for a time in Newton while growing up.

Choice of Campus: Boston College and its esteemed law school, in Newton proper, is one of many higher-education options in the area.

Factor

Value

Population (Age 25+)

56,708

Education Score

45

5. McLean, Va.

By the Numbers: The least-populated city among the top five and the last place to record a sub-50 Education Score, McLean also registered one of the study's lowest percentages (0.5) of a population to have not attended high school at all.

Did you know: Many American leaders in government live here given its 10-mile proximity to Washington, D.C., which is southeast and just across the Potomac River.

Choice of Campus: George Mason University has a strong argument to make about being the best higher-education option nearby; it's located in Fairfax, Va.

Factor

Value

Population (Age 25+)

33,206

Education Score

48

Population Breakdown

Although we adjusted for population in our education rankings, it is still difficult to compare a small city to a larger one. To account for this fact, we separated the safest cities into three categories: cities with age 25-and-older populations between 10,000 and 25,000, midsize cities with populations between 25,000 and 50,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 50,000. Here are our findings:

“America’s

The 100 Most Educated Cities

Below we've laid out the 100 cities with the highest levels of education among the 25-and-older crowd in the US:

“The

Methodology

ValuePenguin pulled this data from the U.S. Census Bureau's five-year American Community Survey, which was completed in 2013. It included the age 25-and-over population of American cities as well as the percentage of that population that had reached one of the following levels of education:

  • Did not attend high school
  • Attended high school
  • Received a high school diploma
  • Attended college
  • Earned an associate degree
  • Earned a bachelor's degree
  • Earned a graduate or professional degree

From this, we simplified these levels of educational attainment to:

  • Attended college (i.e. levels 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  • Earned a post-high school degree (i.e. levels 5, 6 and 7)

We ranked each city according to its standing in these two broader categories, then multiplied this ranking by a weighted representation of the city's population. This equation resulted in our education score.

We then discarded cities with fewer than 10,000 citizens. This left us with 2,746 cities to analyze.

Here is an alphabetical table of the top 100 cities included with their ranks, making it easier to compare different cities. See if your city cracked the list.

Rank

CityPopulation% with DegreeEducation Score

99

Alamo, California10,66178.0169

86

Albany, California12,72076.1161

12

Ann Arbor, Michigan63,96375.277

95

Apex, North Carolina24,08570.7167

76

Arlington, Massachusetts32,12770.6153

8

Arlington, Virginia161,32275.463

66

Bellaire, Texas11,36780.5143

67

Bellevue, Washington92,63069.3145

57

Belmont, Massachusetts17,26675.6136

20

Berkeley, California71,26973.685

1

Bethesda, Maryland43,24785.132

38

Birmingham, Michigan14,38180.7117

94

Blacksburg, Virginia14,10074.6167

11

Boulder, Colorado56,16775.774

61

Brentwood, Tennessee24,50272.8138

3

Brookline, Massachusetts40,82083.239

9

Cambridge, Massachusetts72,38675.967

28

Carmel, Indiana53,56273.0100

53

Cary, North Carolina93,21070.1131

17

Chapel Hill, North Carolina29,24578.383

87

Chesterfield, Missouri33,85370.1161

84

Columbia, Maryland70,43068.5159

55

Coral Gables, Florida31,54171.9134

81

Creve Coeur, Missouri12,95476.8156

7

Cupertino, California39,91479.360

71

Danville, California28,72871.2150

41

Darien, Connecticut12,52383.2121

24

Davis, California33,47575.596

93

Decatur, Georgia13,35375.1167

80

Deerfield, Illinois12,25177.9155

16

Dublin, Ohio27,21378.483

68

Dunwoody, Georgia33,01371.0147

85

East Lansing, Michigan14,78174.8160

88

Eden Prairie, Minnesota40,97569.5161

45

Edina, Minnesota34,32672.1127

77

Ellicott, Maryland44,77669.7154

78

Evanston, Illinois47,62269.5155

69

Fort Hunt, Virginia11,65279.5148

52

Franklin Farm, Virginia12,64681.2129

58

Great Falls, Virginia10,53784.1137

63

Hermosa Beach, California15,09576.7141

91

Highlands Ranch, Colorado63,39168.3165

96

Hinsdale, Illinois10,20279.1167

19

Hoboken, New Jersey38,41776.184

89

Hudson, Ohio14,74074.6162

25

Irvine, California142,24171.899

56

Johns Creek, Georgia49,90870.5135

54

La Cañada Flintridge, California13,17979.6133

35

Lafayette, California16,74579.3113

73

Lake Forest, Illinois12,74077.8152

74

Lake Oswego, Oregon26,70171.3152

29

Leawood, Kansas21,97178.1101

15

Lexington, Massachusetts22,00880.583

14

Los Altos, California20,85682.880

36

Los Gatos, California21,65676.5113

18

Manhattan Beach, California25,13179.284

92

Marblehead, Massachusetts13,89474.8165

5

McLean, Virginia33,20683.948

46

Menlo Park, California22,90374.6127

31

Mercer Island, Washington16,69680.4106

62

Milton, Georgia21,49773.3139

83

Moraga, California10,33879.9157

33

Mountain Brook, Alabama13,19987.4108

37

Naperville, Illinois91,19271.2114

23

Needham, Massachusetts19,56079.994

43

Newport Beach, California64,24770.9124

4

Newton, Massachusetts56,70879.745

26

North Bethesda, Maryland33,45975.399

32

North Potomac, Maryland15,63181.5106

59

Northbrook, Illinois23,47972.9137

49

Oak Park, Illinois36,02072.0127

72

Oakton, Virginia25,22871.6150

70

Okemos, Michigan14,26976.1149

47

Orinda, California12,48982.1127

2

Palo Alto, California46,36684.032

6

Potomac, Maryland31,85383.251

27

Princeton, New Jersey16,71681.5100

65

Rancho Palos Verdes, California30,55471.4143

51

Reston, Virginia43,65271.4129

42

Ridgewood, New Jersey16,31178.3121

13

Sammamish, Washington29,52878.480

39

San Ramon, California47,53271.7119

44

Santa Monica, California71,01970.5127

10

Saratoga, California21,86783.274

50

Scarsdale, New York10,74588.8129

97

Short Pump, Virginia16,61872.7167

75

South Riding, Virginia15,43875.0153

82

Southlake, Texas16,80873.4156

48

Tysons Corner, Virginia15,62478.2127

40

University Park, Texas12,00985.6119

30

Upper Arlington, Ohio23,44876.8104

90

Vestavia Hills, Alabama23,34471.1164

22

Wellesley, Massachusetts15,89484.893

60

West University Place, Texas10,11888.7138

34

Westport, Connecticut17,89778.6111

98

Wildwood, Missouri22,42370.8169

21

Wilmette, Illinois17,83783.290

79

Winchester, Massachusetts14,39175.4155

64

Wolf Trap, Virginia10,97081.9142

100

Zionsville, Indiana14,99273.2170

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