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Personal Finance Reports

Cities with the Smartest Residents

Updated Apr 06, 2023   |   4-min read

Even though college today can be largely associated with the troubles of student loan debt, a college education is still on the radar of many aspiring students. In fact, it is generally accepted that a college degree is an absolute necessity in the modern working world.

It’s understandably justified. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, young adults with a bachelor’s degree in 2014 made 66 percent more than those with just a high school diploma when comparing median salary earnings. This gap only widens when comparing bachelors with high school dropouts who made around half as much in 2014.

In short, better education means better earnings. Many towns strive to attract and retain educated individuals to their areas. If they are successful, this typically means there are a good number of high paying jobs in the area, an excellent schooling system to educate the next generation, nearby higher education institutions, and more. Simply put, if a lot of smart people live in the area, then the area probably has good deal to offer its citizens.

Here at LendEDU we thought it would be interesting to give the citizens in America’s towns and cities a grade for their education. Look below to see which cities have the most educated residents in the United States. More details on these grades can be found in the methodology sections, but it is safe to assume that cities with higher grades have greater numbers of advanced degree-holding residents.

Top 500 Most Educated Cities


Data for this study was pulled from Onboard Informatics who provided population statistics for cities and towns broken out by various demographics. The data was licensed by LendEDU. The demographic for this study involved level of education by degree and graduation status. Total population was broken down by these demographics to assess the overall level of education in a given area.

The Education Grade for each city gauges the overall proportion of those with an advanced degree to those without a college degree relative to the total population. A higher education grade meant a higher portion of the population had a college degree (either an associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate’s degree), and lower grades were assigned to cities and towns whose population had a high portion of some college education, a high school diploma, some high school education, or some pre-high school education.

There were seven different metrics used to calculate the Education Grade: the number of people with a graduate’s degree, the number of people with a bachelor’s degree, the number of people with an associate’s degree, the number of people with either some college education or a high school diploma, the number of people with only some high school education, the number of people with some education before ninth grade, and the total population of the area. These will be referred to as the education population metrics.

Each education population metric was divided by the total population of its respective area. This gave ratios for each education population against the total population. Each of these ratios were given a percent ranking relative to their respective fields. Areas with the highest ratios in a category earned a percent rank of 100 percent, and the lowest ratios were assigned a percent rank of 0 percent.

After each city and town had a percent rank for each metric ratio, the ratios were multiplied by their respective weights. The graduate’s degree ratio was assigned a weight of 50 percent. The bachelor’s degree ratio was assigned a weight of 30 percent. The associate’s degree ratio was assigned a weight of 20 percent. The partial college education and high school diploma ratio was assigned a weight of negative 20 percent. The partial high school education ratio was assigned a weight of negative 30 percent, and the partial middle school and grade school ratio was assigned a weight of negative 50 percent.

All ratio percent ranks were multiplied by their respective weights, and the results were summed together for the final score. The total range of possible scores was between negative 100 to 100. Areas that scored closer to positive 100 had greater numbers with a college education/degree than those without a college education, relative to total population.

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