These Are The 10 Smartest States In America

Chris Kolmar
by Chris Kolmar
Rankings - 2 years ago
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One of the many qualities that people look for in a potential location or company is the intelligence of those around them. This factor can play a huge role in one’s experience at a particular company and can make or break an employee’s time there.

So finding a state with an intelligent population makes sense for both companies and employees. That’s where Zippia comes in; to help you identify those places in America that might have skipped a grade…or two.

You may be wondering how does one determine how intelligent a state really is?

Well we went to the source of all things demographic data – the Census – to figure out what criteria about a state would identify it is a smart cookie.

We set upon the percentage of adults (over 25) with at least a college degree and the percentage of current high school dropouts (aged 16-19). We then crunched the numbers and were left with this set of the brightest states America has to offer.

As it turns out, the majority of the smartest Americans have decided that the Northeast is the place to be. Or California, because everyone wants to live in California:

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Vermont
  3. Virginia
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Connecticut
  6. New Jersey
  7. Minnesota
  8. Maryland
  9. Nebraska
  10. California

Read on to see why these states got into a four-year college or skip to the end to see a full chart of all the states.

For more information check out:

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How we determined the smartest states in the country

While there are “objective” crtieria for intellegence like IQ scores and SATs, we went with something a little different for this analysis. Many of those tests have been shown to be biased against certain people and places, so we went with criteria that strips away a bit of that bias.

Specifically we uused the following two criteria to determine the cream from the crop when it comes to smarts:

  • Percentage of adults with at least a college education (Higher is smarter)
  • Percentage of teenagers that are high school dropouts (Lower is smarter)

Our data comes directly from the latest American Community Survey from the Census (2010-2014).

We thought this criteria was representative of the current state of smarts with the potential for a place to improve the education levels of the next generation.

In order to determine the smartest, we ranked all the states for each criteria from one to 50 with one being the “smartest” in any category.

We took the average rank across all criteria, with the place posting the highest overall score being given the diploma for “Smartest State In America”.

If your state isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart. Otherwise, learn more about how the top ten states achieved their potential.

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1. Massachusetts

Smartest States

Source: Flickr Roger W

Population: 6,657,291
Bachelor’s Or Higher: 40.0%
High School Dropout Rate: 3.0%

2. Vermont

Smartest States

Source: Flickr Community College Of Vermont

Population: 626,358
Bachelor’s Or Higher: 35.2%
High School Dropout Rate: 1.9%

3. Virginia

Smartest States

Source: Flickr Taber Andrew Bain

Population: 8,185,131
Bachelor’s Or Higher: 35.8%
High School Dropout Rate: 2.9%

4. New Hampshire

Smartest States

Source: Flickr Ken

Population: 1,321,069
Bachelor’s Or Higher: 34.4%
High School Dropout Rate: 2.4%

5. Connecticut

Smartest States

Source: Flickr US Department of Edu

Population: 3,592,053
Bachelor’s Or Higher: 37.0%
High School Dropout Rate: 3.1%

5. New Jersey

Smartest States

Source: Flickr Harshil Shah

Population: 8,874,374
Bachelor’s Or Higher: 36.4%
High School Dropout Rate: 3.1%

7. Minnesota

Smartest States

Source: Flickr Kevin Dooley

Population: 5,383,661
Bachelor’s Or Higher: 33.2%
High School Dropout Rate: 3.3%

8. Maryland

Smartest States

Source: Flickr Maryland GovPics

Population: 5,887,776
Bachelor’s Or Higher: 37.3%
High School Dropout Rate: 4.3%

9. Nebraska

Smartest States

Source: Flickr John Walker

Population: 1,855,617
Bachelor’s Or Higher: 29.0%
High School Dropout Rate: 3.0%

10. California

Smartest States

Source: Flickr Steve Jurvetson

Population: 38,066,920
Bachelor’s Or Higher: 31.0%
High School Dropout Rate: 3.8%

Full List of Smartest States

State Overall Rank Adults With College Diploma High School Dropout Rate
Massachusetts 1 40.0% 3.0%
Vermont 2 35.2% 1.9%
Virginia 3 35.8% 2.9%
New Hampshire 4 34.4% 2.4%
Connecticut 5 37.0% 3.1%
New Jersey 5 36.4% 3.1%
Minnesota 7 33.2% 3.3%
Maryland 8 37.3% 4.3%
Nebraska 9 29.0% 3.0%
California 10 31.0% 3.8%
Kansas 11 30.7% 3.9%
Rhode Island 11 31.4% 4.0%
Illinois 13 31.9% 4.2%
Maine 13 28.4% 3.4%
New York 15 33.7% 4.4%
Hawaii 16 30.5% 4.0%
Colorado 17 37.5% 5.0%
Washington 18 32.3% 4.5%
Wisconsin 19 27.4% 3.5%
Utah 20 30.6% 4.4%
Pennsylvania 21 28.1% 4.2%
Iowa 22 26.4% 3.7%
Delaware 23 29.4% 4.8%
North Dakota 23 27.3% 4.2%
Oregon 25 30.1% 5.1%
Wyoming 25 25.1% 3.7%
Ohio 27 25.6% 4.2%
Tennessee 28 24.4% 3.9%
South Dakota 29 26.7% 4.7%
Michigan 30 26.4% 4.6%
Alaska 31 27.7% 5.2%
Montana 31 29.1% 5.9%
North Carolina 31 27.8% 5.4%
Missouri 34 26.7% 4.9%
Florida 35 26.8% 5.2%
Idaho 36 25.4% 4.7%
Georgia 37 28.3% 6.1%
Texas 38 27.1% 5.4%
Arizona 39 27.1% 6.0%
Kentucky 40 21.8% 4.7%
South Carolina 41 25.3% 5.4%
West Virginia 42 18.7% 4.9%
Indiana 43 23.6% 5.7%
New Mexico 44 26.1% 7.7%
Alabama 45 23.1% 5.9%
Arkansas 45 20.6% 5.4%
Oklahoma 47 23.8% 6.5%
Nevada 48 22.5% 6.4%
Louisiana 49 22.1% 7.4%
Mississippi 49 20.4% 6.2%