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Higher Education

You’ve heard it, we’ve heard it: the importance of a college education. But do you know how many people in the U.S. can mark it down on their resume? You may be surprised to learn nationally, only 28.3% of U.S adults have a college education or higher in the U.S. (based on 77 DMAs) and almost 1 in 3 (32.1%) of U.S. adult’s highest form of education is a high school diploma or GED.

  • 30.9% have some college or an AA/Associates
  • 17.9% have a Bachelor’s Degree as the highest form of education
  • More people have a post graduate degree (10.4%) than do not have at least a high school diploma or GED (8.7%)

It’s true about Millennials being the most educated generation. 36.8% adults age 25-34 have a college degree or higher compared to 32.8% of 35-54 year-olds and only 25.1% of 55+ year-olds.

Locally, 25.2% of Hampton Roads have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.


To put this number in perspective, here’s a list of other categories with a similar concentration:

31.0% of U.S. adults have never married
30.1% visited Yahoo! website or app in the past 30 days
27.5% are a grandparent
26.1% read the daily newspaper
Here are the top five markets for a college education (highest percentages):

Bachelor’s Degrees (or some post graduate, but no advanced degree):

  1. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose (24.3%)
  2. Boston (22.6%)
  3. Minneapolis/St. Paul (22.4%)
  4. Austin (22.0%)
  5. Denver (21.9%)

Post Graduate Degree:

  1. Washington D.C (21.3%)
  2. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose (16.4%)
  3. Boston (15.9%)
  4. New York (14.2%)
  5. Denver (13.8%)

AA/Associates or 1-3 years of college:

  1. Salt Lake City (39.6%)
  2. Spokane (39.0%)
  3. Colorado Springs (38.7%)
  4. Sacramento (37.4%)
  5. Flint/Saginaw/Bay City (36.8%)
  6. Hampton Roads (36.5%)


Source: Nielsen Scarborough Research, Multi-Market Release 2, 2016

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