Society

Least Educated States in the US

Residents of West Virginia are the least likely to have obtained a bachelor's degree.

The National Census Bureau conducted a research entitled the “American Community Survey” which was aimed to assess the attainment of persons over the age of 25 years in each state. During the survey, the Bureau relied on a sample of about 3.5 million households from all states in the US with no regard to their respective legal residency status and used phone interviews, questionnaires, and home visits in the collection of the required information. Based on the data obtained from the American Community Survey, one can establish the least educated states in the country by identifying the states which had the lowest percentage of persons of 25 years or older who holds a Bachelor’s degree. Other thresholds included the percentage of high school graduates as well as residents holding an advanced degree in relation to a state’s over-25 populations. Using this threshold, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Arkansas were established as the least educated states in the US with none of the states having a percentage surpassing 23%.

Least Educated States in the US

West Virginia

West Virginia is considered the least educated state in the United States based on university education with only 19.2% of West Virginians over the age of 25 years having attained a Bachelor’s degree. The low number of Bachelor degrees in West Virginia is also linked to the low percentage of West Virginian residents over the age of 25 with advanced degrees of 7.4% which was also the lowest in the country. The reason behind West Virginia’s prominence in the list of least educated states in the US is not entirely known as West Virginia is home to some of the best universities in the country which include, University of Charleston, West Virginia State University, and West Virginia University.

Mississippi

According to the data from American Community Survey, Mississippi was recognized as the second least educated state in the United States. The rank was because only 20.7% of Mississippi residents of 25 years or more holds a Bachelor’s degree, which was the second-lowest percentage of any state in the country. The low number of degree holders in the state can be linked to the low percentage of high school graduates in the state which at 82.3% of persons over the age of 25 years, was the third-lowest in the country.

Arkansas

The study showed that only 21.1% of persons of 25 years and above in Arkansas possessed a Bachelor’s degree which was the third-lowest percentage of any state in the country and therefore meant that Arkansas was the least educated state in the United States. Mississippi even surpassed Arkansas in the percentage of residents holding an advanced degree; Arkansas’ 7.5% was the second lowest in the country.

Relation Between High School Graduates and Number of Advanced Degrees

There was a particular trend seen among the least educated states when all three thresholds were analyzed. The three least educated states; West Virginia, Mississippi, and Arkansas performed poorly in all three fronts on the number of high school graduates, Bachelor’s degree holders, and advanced degree holders. West Virginia and Arkansas had the least percentage of Advanced degree holders while Mississippi had the third-lowest percentage of High school graduates in the country.

Least Educated States in the US

RankStatePercentage of Population Who Hold Bachelor's Degree
1Michigan26.90%
2Iowa26.70%
3New Mexico26.30%
4Ohio26.10%
5Idaho25.90%
6South Carolina25.80%
7Wyoming25.70%
8Tennessee24.90%
9Indiana24.10%
10Oklahoma24.10%
11Alabama23.50%
12Nevada23.00%
13Louisiana22.50%
14Kentucky22.30%
15Arkansas21.10%
16Mississippi20.70%
17West Virginia19.20%

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