The Most & Least Educated States In America

Cities with the most student debt

The Most and Least Educated States in America

Massachusetts is the most educated state in the US, according to a new study.

In its 2024 Most & Least Educated States in America, WalletHub compared all 50 states across 18 key indicators of a well-educated population: educational attainment, school quality and achievement gaps between genders and races.

Massachusetts has the highest share of bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 and older, which is two times higher than in West Virginia, the state with the lowest.


The least educated states in the WalletHub’s study were the following:

  1. West Virginia
  2. Mississippi
  3. Louisiana
  4. Arkansas
  5. Oklahoma


New Jersey has the highest school system rating, which is 41.2 times higher than in Oklahoma, the state with one of the lowest.

William Ewell, a Teaching Professor at Graduate School of Education – Northeastern University, says highly educated states are better able to withstand economic shocks.

“Access to high-quality elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education is the foundation of state economic success,” Ewell explains. “States improve their capacity to recruit and retain high-wage employees, produce higher average worker wages, and improve economic outcomes.”


States with the highest percentage of high-school diploma holders include Montana, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Wyoming.

States with the lowest percentage of high-school diploma holders include Nevada, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and California.

Andrew Furco, Professor and Associate Chair at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development, says it’s important to remember that many factors determine a student's journey from high school graduation to college.

“Most of these factors—socio-economic conditions, parents' education levels, job opportunities, and others—have nothing to do with the quality of the school a student attends or their overall ability to succeed in school,” Furco says. “In many so-called ‘high performing’ K-12 schools and districts, there are students who drop out and completers who do not attend college. And conversely, we find students in so-called ‘low-performing’ schools who do graduate and go on to complete college degrees.”


In order to determine the most and least educated states in America, WalletHub compared the 50 states across two key dimensions, Educational Attainment and Quality of Education. WalletHub examined those dimensions using 18 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the “most educated.” In certain metrics where women showed an advantage over men and black people over white people, WalletHub gave equal credit to the states with no gender/racial inequality. These metrics were marked accordingly with an asterisk (*).

Educational Attainment - Total Points: 60

  • Share of Adults Aged 25 and Older with at Least a High School Diploma: Full Weight (~15.00 Points)
  • Share of Adults Aged 25 and Older with at Least Some College Experience or an Associate's Degree: Full Weight (~15.00 Points)
  • Share of Adults Aged 25 and Older with at Least a Bachelor's Degree: Full Weight (~15.00 Points)
  • Share of Adults Aged 25 and Older with at Least a Graduate or Professional Degree: Full Weight (~15.00 Points)

Quality of Education & Attainment Gap - Total Points: 40

  • Quality of School System: Double Weight (~5.16 Points)
  • Blue Ribbon Schools per Capita: Full Weight (~2.58 Points)
  • Average Quality of Universities: Double Weight (~5.16 Points)
  • Enrolled Students in Top Universities per Capita: Full Weight (~2.58 Points)
  • Public High School Graduation Rate: Double Weight (~5.16 Points)
  • Projected High School Graduation Rate Change between 2022-2023 and 2033-2034: Full Weight (~2.58 Points)
  • NAEP Math & Reading Test Scores: Full Weight (~2.58 Points)
  • Share of 2022 High School Class Scoring “3” or Higher on Advanced Placement Exams: Full Weight (~2.58 Points)
  • School Engagement of Students: Full Weight (~2.58 Points)
  • States with Summer Learning Legislation: Half Weight (~1.29 Points)
  • States with School Programs: Half Weight (~1.29 Points)
  • Presence of Free Community College Education: Half Weight (~1.29 Points)
  • Racial Gap in Educational Attainment*: Full Weight (~2.58 Points)
  • Gender Gap in Educational Attainment*: Full Weight (~2.58 Points)

Sources: WalletHub

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