Princeton Among Ten Most Educated Places

If you live in Princeton, NJ, then congratulations are in order. Why? NerdWallet, a personal finance information service, has released its third ranking of The Most Educated Places in America. Their list seeks to quantify the total educational level of a community by examining the percentages of people who have accomplished each stage of education, from a highschool diploma through a doctorate. After tallying data for more than 2,000 locations, their final list named Princeton as the sixth-most educated place in the United States!

NerdWallet's rankings reveal a definite advantage for the East coast, with eight of the top ten locations found in states bordering the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, California was the only Western state to crack the top ten, with two technology-rich areas making the cut. Here is the full breakdown:

  1. Bethesda, Maryland
  2. Brookline, Massachusetts
  3. Potomac, Maryland
  4. Palo Alto, California
  5. McLean, Virginia
  6. Princeton, New Jersey
  7. Newton, Massachusetts
  8. Lexington, Massachusetts
  9. Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  10. Cupertino, California

According to NerdWallet, Princeton was buoyed in the rankings largely thanks to its list-leading percentage of doctorates (16%). Obviously, this can be attributed to Princeton University, whose faculty boasts numerous Nobel Prize-winning scholars. 

Three of the top ten areas (Bethesda, Potomac, and McLean) are located around Washington, D.C., which is unsurprising given that the nation's largest employer (aka the federal government) resides there. These cities are also home to organizations such as Hilton WorldWide, Capital One, the National Institutes of Health, and Lockheed Martin, to name a few.

California's two entries each boast major educational draws as well. Palo Alto harbors Stanford University, Hewlett-Packard, and Tesla, while Apple calls Cupertino home.

Overall, the data revealed that around 86% of Americans 25 years or older have at least graduated from high school. 29% went on to attain at least a bachelor’s degree, while only 8% of Americans have a master’s degree, 2% hold professional degrees, and 1% hold doctorates.

In order to quantify education, NerdWallet examined U.S. Census Bureau data from the American Community Survey on the educational levels of residents in over 2,000 cities, towns, villages, and census-designated places. They then assigned the following weight to each educational level to assign an overall score to each location:

  1. The percentage of residents with at least a high school diploma or associate degree is 40% of the score.
  2. The percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree is 30% of the score.
  3. The percentage of residents with at least a master’s degree is 10% of the score.
  4. The percentage of residents with a doctorate degree is 10% of the score.
  5. The percentage of residents with a professional degree is 10% of the score.

For a look at the full list and educational breakdown, head over to's The Most Educated Places in America.

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