Educational Attainment: How educated are Minnesota's adult population (age 25 to 64)?

  • At 48 percent, Minnesota ranks 2nd in the nation behind Massachusetts (51 percent) with the percentage of the population age 25 to 64 earning an associate degree or higher.
  • Sizeable gaps in degree attainment exist among racial and ethnic population groups over age 25, with only Asian (50 percent) and white (44 percent) Minnesotans exceeding the state average.

70 Percent of Minnesota Adults Have at Least Some College or Higher, 2012

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

Why Measure Educational Attainment?

States benefit both economically and socially from having an educated populace. States with higher proportions of their population with an education beyond high school tend to have a population with higher per capita personal income. At $46,227 Minnesota's per capita personal income ranked 11th nationally in 2012. The national average was $42,693. State per-capita income rankings track in line with educational attainment rankings. College-educated adults also tend to display a greater sense of civic responsibility, such as higher voting rates and higher philanthropic tendencies. College educated parents tend to pass on their higher education knowledge and aspirations to their children.

Levels of educational attainment in the population reflect not only postsecondary institutions' contributions to a state's educated citizenry but the vitality of the job market and attractive quality of life factors in a geographic area. The Brookings Institute has reported on the increasing concentration of metropolitan areas attracting educated populations. Minnesota is considered a state that attracts educated adults, especially to the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Just Over Half of Minneapolis/St. Paul Regional Residents Have Degrees

A 2014 Lumina Foundation report, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, ranked states and metropolitan areas on the percentage of population age 25 to 64 earning an associate degree or higher using 2012 Census data. Minneapolis/St. Paul ranked eighth as a top metropolitan statistical area with 52 percent of the population in degree attainment. In contrast the region ranked 100 was McAllen-Edinburg-Mission in Texas at 22 percent.

Top 10 Metropolitan Areas: Percentage of Adults Age 25 to 64 with an Associate Degree or Higher in 2012 Among the 100 Most Populated MSAs
Metropolitan Statistical Area State Percent
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa ClaraCA54.9%
San Francisco-Oakland-FremontCA53.3%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-BloomingtonMN-WI51.5%
Des Moines-West Des MoinesIA48.4%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

National Infographic

Top 10 States: Percentage of Adults Age 25 to 64 with an Associate Degree or Higher in 2012
New Hampshire46.7%
New Jersey45.8%
North Dakota45.6%

Minnesota data

Minnesota's Communities of Color

Educational attainment varies by race and ethnicity in Minnesota and nationally for the population age 25 and older. In Minnesota, Asians (50 percent) and whites (44 percent) were the only two population groups with attainment levels above the state average of 43 percent having an associate degree or higher. Educational attainment data by race categories were only available for the population age 25 and over; whereas, other data in this indicator used the population age 25 to 64.

About Educational Attainment

The U.S. Census Bureau collects information on the highest level of education attained by individuals age 18 and older. The data are available by age, gender, race and geography. The Census defines postsecondary as either "some college," "associate degree," "bachelor's degree", or a "graduate or professional degree."

Individuals with "some college" include three different groups of individuals; (1) students currently enrolled in college, (2) those dropping out of college before obtaining an academic certificate or degree, and (3) those completing a formal non-degree vocational certificate below the associate degree which can be completed in two years or less. There is a growing importance of quantifying individuals who have non-degree, industry-recognized credentials as this level of postsecondary education is often the highest needed to enter several high-demand high-wage careers. The U.S. Department of Education is working with the Census Bureau to improve the collection of this data.

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