What is the definition of education? Obviously, intelligence is not dependent on degrees and schooling; some of the world’s smartest people may have never set foot in a classroom. However, what about those who have devoted their lives to academia? A team of WalletHub experts compiled a ranking of the most-to-least-educated states in the United States, and you might be surprised at where your home state ranks!

1. Massachusetts Commonwealth

dog graduate Massachusetts Commonwealth

Is it any surprise that Massachusetts is the most educated state in the nation? After all, this is where Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are located. Massachusetts’ bookish atmosphere isn’t an act, from the historic cobblestone streets of Boston to the ivy-covered walls of Cambridge: In 2021, 48% of adults reported having a bachelor’s degree.

2. Maryland

If you find yourself in need of a good lawyer, veterinarian, or doctor, head to Maryland. Though there are talented professionals in every state, according to WalletHub, Maryland has the second-highest percentage of people with a graduate or professional degree in the United States. Most importantly, it is ranked first in terms of educational quality.

3. Connecticut

With Yale’s hallowed halls at its heart, how could Connecticut not rank high on this list? Other prestigious schools in Connecticut include Wesleyan and the United States Coast Guard Academy, so it’s no surprise that 42 percent of Connecticut residents reported having a bachelor’s degree in 2021.

4. Colorado

The Rocky Mountains have a lot more going on than you might think! Colorado has the highest percentage of adults with an associate degree, according to WalletHub’s 2022 ranking of the most educated states. Coloradans are unquestionably climbing the mountain of success, but perhaps they shouldn’t.

5. Vermont

Vermont has much more to offer than beautiful scenery and skiable slopes. The state prioritizes funding for teacher education, vocational training, and, of course, primary and secondary education. It appears to be paying off: Vermont ranks among the top states in terms of educational attainment and quality of education.

6. New Jersey

Reality shows like Jersey Shore don’t make us want to go to school, but Garden State has the fourth-best overall education quality in the country! Not only is the state home to Princeton, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, but it also ranks sixth on WalletHub’s list of the most educated states. People, don’t judge a book by its cover!

7. Virginia

Because President George Washington was a native Virginian, the state’s current residents have high expectations. They have, however, embraced the high expectations and have one of the highest percentages of graduate degree holders in the country, according to WalletHub. The impressive community college system in Virginia is an excellent place for ambitious students to begin their educational journeys.

8. New Hampshire

New Hampshire outperforms the rest when it comes to laying a solid educational foundation. According to the website U.S. News & World Report, approximately 88 percent of high school graduates graduated in 2019. That’s nearly four percentile points higher than the national average. It’s no surprise that the Granite State ranks so high on this list.

9. Minnesota

You don’t need a compass to find your way to a college degree in the North Star state. According to WalletHub, Minnesota ranks fourth in terms of associate degree holders, and the state offers a diverse array of community, technical, tribal, and state colleges for students to choose from. In Minnesota, you can dream big!

10. Washington

Washington is known for its gray, rainy weather, but the state’s commitment to education is anything but gloomy. The Evergreen State ranked #10 on WalletHub’s list of the most educated states, requiring children aged eight to sixteen to attend school. Perhaps this is why 86.7 percent of high school students graduate!

11. Utah

Visit Utah for the breathtaking mountain views, but stay for the historically low tuition rates! Many students in Utah graduate with less than $18,000 in debt, which is about $10,000 less than the national average. According to WalletHub, Utah has the country’s second-highest percentage of college-educated adults.

12. Illinois

Honest Abe’s home state couldn’t possibly be that low on this list, could it? Illinois ranks 12th on WalletHub’s list of the most educated states, thanks in part to the state’s prestigious colleges, Northwestern and the University of Chicago.

13. New York City

Begin spreading the word! Though some would argue that living in New York City is an education in and of itself, the state as a whole is a good place to get your degree. New York is the only state with two Ivy League colleges, thanks to Cornell and Columbia. It also has one of the highest populations of people with graduate degrees in the country, according to WalletHub.

14. Oregon


Nothing brings back memories of our elementary school days like the Oregon Trail video game. But where does the state stand today? What Oregon’s education lacks in quality—it ranks among the top ten worst in the country, according to WalletHub—it makes up for with a high percentage of associates degree holders. So don’t write off Oregon just yet!

15. Rhode Island

Rhode Island
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Rhode Island is small but powerful, particularly in the field of education. Because of prestigious institutions such as Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, Ocean State has earned a reputation for providing students with a high-quality education. However, the average student debt in the state is nearly $9,000 higher than the national average.

16. Delaware

Delaware may be one of the smallest states in the country, but it has lofty educational goals. WalletHub ranks the Diamond State eighth in terms of educational quality, which is quite an accomplishment for a state with only one major university! With apologies for the pun, Delaware could be described as a true diamond in the rough.

17. Hawaii

No, Hawaii isn’t just a popular vacation spot. In fact, it ranks 17th on WalletHub’s list of the most educated states. Though the Aloha State’s overall university quality is lacking (it ranks third-worst in the country according to WalletHub research), the state’s diverse educational offerings for students from the United States, Asia, and the Pacific can only help the state’s ranking in the future.

18. Nebraska

According to WalletHub, Nebraska is only slightly above average in terms of educational quality and attainability. Nebraska, on the other hand, isn’t the worst place to get an education, with an above-average percentage of high school graduates and a below-average percentage of student debt. The Cornhusker State is only getting better!

19. Montana

Montana, like some of the other states on this list, is riddled with contradictions. WalletHub gives Montana first place for having the highest school diploma holders, but the site also gives Montana low marks for the overall quality of its universities. Improving overall quality may result in a higher state score!

20. Wisconsin

Wisconsin, affectionately known as “America’s Dairyland,” is home to one of the country’s most prestigious universities—we’re looking at you, the University of Wisconsin—and has an overall high score for educational quality. Also, did you know that the first kindergarten in the United States is thought to have opened in Wisconsin? Since 1856, they have taken education seriously!

21. Wisconsin

Wisconsin, affectionately known as “America’s Dairyland,” is home to one of the country’s most prestigious universities—we’re looking at you, the University of Wisconsin—and has an overall high score for educational quality. Also, did you know that the first kindergarten in the United States is thought to have opened in Wisconsin? Since 1856, they have taken education seriously!

21. Maine

Although Maine may not come to mind when thinking of Ivy League colleges, the state does have three highly regarded universities: Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin. Maine has earned a respectable spot on WalletHub’s list, though its score for educational quality, which ranks it 36th by that metric, could be improved.

22. Florida

Would it surprise you to learn that Florida, a haven for wild college kids on spring break, has the country’s second-best education quality? WalletHub confirmed this in its 2022 list of the most educated states in the United States. With prestigious universities such as the University of Florida and Florida A&M, the Sunshine State may have the most college-educated residents of any southern state.

23. Kansas

Kansas ranks 49th in the nation for overall educational quality, indicating that it still has a lot to learn. WalletHub, on the other hand, ranks Kansas 14th in terms of educational attainment. If the Sunflower States improve their educational quality, they could be one of the most educated states in the country!

24. North Dakota

Don’t be fooled by North Dakota’s middle-of-the-road ranking: the Sioux State’s commitment to education is evident in its high-school graduation rate, which is three percentiles higher than the national average. WalletHub, on the other hand, ranked North Dakota dead last in terms of people obtaining graduate or professional degrees.

25. Michigan

The Wolverine State may appear to be powerful, but its education system could use some toughening up. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, which has become one of the best research institutions in the country, is the state’s crowning achievement. When it comes to educational quality and attainment, WalletHub ranks the state in the middle.

26. California

Californians are known for their sunny dispositions, which may explain why the Golden State’s overall education quality is so high — it ranks sixth in the nation, according to WalletHub. Still, if the stereotype about their laid-back attitudes is correct, it may help explain why their high school graduation rate is lower than the national average.

27. Wyoming

Wyoming is known for its cowboys, plains, and higher-than-average graduation rates. According to WalletHub, Equality State has one of the highest percentages of high-school graduates in the country and has been steadily improving in this area since 2019. Even better, many people in the state have a college education.

28. Alaska

Much of Alaska’s educational potential, also known as “The Last Frontier,” has yet to be realized. According to WalletHub, the state has the lowest educational quality in the country. What Alaska’s education system lacks in quality, it more than makes up for in quantity: the University of Alaska has campuses in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau, the state’s three most populous cities.

29. North Carolina

North Carolina has lower educational attainment than the national average, making it more difficult to obtain a college degree there than in other states. The University of North Carolina and Duke University are both highly regarded, but the Tar Heel State needs to catch up if it wants to move out of the low 20s. NC is the only one who can do it!

30. Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is home to some of the country’s most prestigious universities, including Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, and the University of Pennsylvania. Nonetheless, with nearly $10,000 more student loan debt than the national average and the state’s middle-of-the-road quality scores, Pennsylvania ranks 30th.

31. Iowa

Historically, Iowa has placed a higher value on education than many of the other states on this list. Iowa Area Education Agencies assist local schools and communities, which may account for the state’s high-school graduation rate of 91.4 percent. Nonetheless, WalletHub ranks Iowa last in terms of overall educational quality.

32. Missouri

Missouri’s attitude toward education is best described as “neutral.” The Show Me State does not appear to prioritize education, as evidenced by its slightly lower-than-average ranking on WalletHub’s list. Nonetheless, Missouri’s educational prospects are promising: the state’s graduation rate of 89.2 percent is higher than the national average. That’s fantastic news!

33. Georgia

Georgia has more historically black institutions than many other states in the country, ranging from Morehouse and Spelman Colleges to the Atlanta University Center. However, this is one of the few ways Georgia stands out in terms of education; the state’s educational attainment is slightly below average, according to WalletHub.

35. South Dakota

According to WalletHub, South Dakota’s overall education quality is quite low—tenth-lowest in the country—but the state does provide educational opportunities to more communities than ever before. Native American reservations now have federal funding for primary schools, and tribal colleges have sprouted up on a few reservations. South Dakota has a bright future!

35. Ohio

How did Ohio, known as the “land of schools and colleges,” end up in the bottom half of this list? WalletHub reports that despite the prestige of institutions such as Ohio State University and Oberlin College, their home state’s overall quality of education and educational attainment scores remain average.

36. Idaho

When it comes to overall educational quality, the Gem State falls short. Idaho has the sixth-lowest educational quality in the country, according to WalletHub research! The state of Idaho, on the other hand, provides college degrees that directly support the state’s economy, such as mining and forestry.

37. Arizona

Arizona isn’t exactly known for putting much funding into education, and the state’s overall quality of education leaves much to be desired. Worse, Arizona’s high school graduation rate is at least seven percentage points lower than the national average. On the bright side, Arizona’s student debt is also lower than the national average!

38. Indiana

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Indiana is geographically and educationally in the middle, but its overall quality of education stands out: the state ranks tenth overall! It helps that Indiana is home to many prestigious universities, ranging from Purdue University to the University of Notre Dame.

39. Texas

Texas may be ranked low on WalletHub’s list, but things aren’t all that bad in the Lone Star State. It has an above-average high school graduation rate, as well as an above-average educational quality overall. Texas’ low educational attainment ranking is what lowers its score. All things considered, it could be worse!

40. South Carolina

Students in South Carolina may be wondering why their post-college debt is higher than the national average when the state’s overall educational quality is among the lowest in the country. We’d like to remind those students of a silver lining: South Carolina’s educational ranking will actually improve in 2022. Things are gradually but steadily improving!

41. Tennessee

Tennessee’s elementary and secondary schools are not always adequately funded, but 90 percent of students graduated from high school in 2019. Those students also had excellent options for colleges, including the highly regarded Vanderbilt and Fisk Universities. Despite this, WalletHub ranks Tennessee’s educational attainment as 41st, which is how it ended up down here.

42. New Mexico

Students in New Mexico aren’t exactly rushing to finish high school. Only 73.9 percent of students graduated in 2019, and we may have discovered why with the state’s third-worst score for educational quality. Nonetheless, New Mexico provides some distinctive educational opportunities, such as at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

43. Nevada

You wouldn’t expect to hear “Las Vegas” and “quality education” in the same sentence, but they do! Yes, Nevada’s educational quality ranks 19th out of 50 states. However, getting a college degree is a little more difficult. WalletHub ranks Nevada sixth from the bottom in terms of educational attainment.

44. Oklahoma

WalletHub determined that Oklahoma’s overall education quality was above average in 2021 but not in 2022. The quality of education in the Sooner State has dropped by 12 points in just a year! Oklahoma’s ranking has also dropped, this time to 44th place. What’s the advantage? Two of Oklahoma’s state universities have world-class graduate programs.

45. Kentucky

At first glance, Kentucky’s WalletHub education scores are befuddling. The state’s educational attainment score is 46th, but its overall educational quality is 18th! So how does a state that provides a good education end up a fifth from the bottom? Students, it appears, are simply not graduating from college.

46. Alabama’s

Alabama’s low ranking on this list is most likely due to a combination of factors. Aside from low educational quality and attainment scores, Yellowhammer State also provides very little funding to public schools. Tuskegee University, founded by Booker T. Washington, and Auburn University, both respected institutions, are two bright spots for Alabamians to remember.

47. Arkansas

Unfortunately, Arkansas is one of the states with the fewest degree-carrying adults. According to WalletHub data, citizens of the Natural State are simply not obtaining associate or bachelor’s degrees, let alone graduate degrees. But more than 89 percent of people are graduating from high school, which is cause for celebration.

48. Louisiana

You might not want to go to Louisiana for education, but you should definitely go for everything else. The Sugar State ranks poorly in terms of educational attainment and overall educational quality, but that doesn’t change the fact that Travel & Leisure named New Orleans one of the best cities in the United States.

49. Mississippi

Mississippi, which ranks second-to-last, is only above average in one area: student loan debt. Having said that, Mississippi is home to a number of prestigious universities, ranging from Jackson State University to the University of Mississippi, also known as “Ole Miss.” So, despite historically low rankings, Mississippi has many educational bright spots.

50. West Virginia

With West Virginia’s ranking on this list, there is only one way to go: up! Instead of focusing on the negatives, consider the following: West Virginia graduated more than 90% of its high school students in 2019, and while its score for educational quality is quite low, it is far from the worst. Thank goodness for silver linings!

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