Here Are the 10 Smartest College Towns in the US

The United States population is more educated than ever as jobs require more advanced degrees in today’s modern economy. In 2017, 90% of the 25 and older population had completed a high school degree. A large proportion of individuals go on to obtain higher degrees for more specialization in their fields. Along with more job prospects, educated populations tend to have improved public health and greater political and civic engagement.

This trend is especially apparent in college towns, where one or more significant institutes of higher education drive community advancement. Large universities contribute to the economic development, innovation, and culture of the surrounding community by attracting diverse students and faculty members. College towns are great places to live because of the variety of opportunities and events for residents. 

Successful colleges also draw in industry and government partners who want to collaborate on research projects. The skilled workers and degree holders in the town benefit from the job opportunities which helps support economic growth in the area. Being surrounded by a well-educated population is the driving force for innovation in many college towns.

Determining the smartest college towns across the United States is challenging, but this guide helps break it down. Looking at data from WalletHub, they break down the educational accomplishments of various cities across the nation, and we have extracted which locales on the list would be considered college towns. Their ranking is based on the level of education in the population, the quality of programs offered, public school systems, and the gender education gap. Note that we are not affiliated with Wallethub.

Without further ado, here are the 10 smartest college towns in the US.


10. Provo-Orem, UT

Provo Utah
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Provo-Orem is a thriving economic and cultural center with continually expanding businesses and transportation systems. Because of its rapid growth, Forbes cited Provo as one of the Best Small and Medium-Sized Cities for Jobs in 2017. The area’s most considerable growth is in industries like business and professional services that tend to hire educated people.

It comes as no surprise that Provo-Orem has a largely educated population, with the 2nd highest percentage of associate degree holders and 5th highest share of high school graduates.

The major universities in the area also contribute to the intelligence of the town.

Provo is home to Brigham Young University, the third-largest private university in the United States with over 34,000 students. The nearby Utah Valley University brings in over 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students to the Provo-Orem area.

Schools in Provo-Orem: Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University, Provo College


9. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh NC
Dennis Ludlow (Sharkshock), Raleigh Skyline along S Saunders st, CC BY-SA 4.0

As part of the Research Triangle, Raleigh draws in an educated workforce to the many tech companies and enterprises. The city is also home to many industry leaders such as Cisco, IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, and Lenovo. These big players were drawn to Raleigh due to the presence of NC State, a major research university that educates the most North Carolinans nationwide.

The university also has educational programs such as NC State Extension that transfer research-based knowledge to members of the Raleigh community. The general public transfers academic learnings into practical applications that make their everyday life easier.

Thanks to the university’s prominent role in research, Raleigh has become the #7 metropolitan area for STEM nationwide. These technical careers, typically requiring a college education, provide lucrative employment options and remain in demand as technology continues to advance.

Schools in Raleigh: North Carolina State University, Meredith College, St. Augustine’s University


8. Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs CO
Postoak, CC CO SPRINGS, CC BY 2.0

Although beautiful mountains may be the first thing to come to mind, Colorado Springs is also one of the smartest cities. More than 38% of residents earn a bachelor’s degree or higher, the second-highest attainment rate in the country.

This is primarily thanks to the schools in the surrounding area, whose graduates go on to join the regional workforce. 5 universities in Colorado Springs are certified NSA Centers of Academic Excellence. Colorado College is consistently ranked in the top 3 most innovative schools by US News because of their Block Plan, where students can explore subjects in-depth. 

Along with the local colleges, the businesses in the area are invested in educating their community. They provide real-world experiences at all levels to help develop the local talent pipeline.

Schools in Colorado Springs: Colorado College, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, US Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado Technical University


7. Bridgeport-Stamford, CT

Bridgeport CT
Magicpiano, Bridgeport CT Downtown South HD, CC BY-SA 4.0

Bridgeport-Stamford is Connecticut’s most educated area, with nearly 47% of adults in the area holding a college degree or higher. This has economic implications as well, with Bridgeport-Stamford households earning a median income of $90,000 in comparison to the state’s average of $73,000.

The University of Bridgeport is a major contributor to the area’s education, with a diverse student body from over 45 states and 80 countries. The college also has career-oriented programs for any residents seeking personal and professional improvement. 

As a result of the many public schools and universities in the Bridgeport-Stamford area, there is a large proportion of the population invested in education. As of 2021, there were 70,000 employees in education.

Schools in Bridgeport: University of Bridgeport, Housatonic Community College, University of Connecticut Stamford, Sacred Heart University Stamford

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