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The 5 Most Educated Cities in California
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The 5 Most Educated Cities in California

Many elements are taken into account when measuring what constitutes California’s most educated cities.

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5 min read

June 30, 2021

Many elements are taken into account when measuring what constitutes California’s most educated cities. While intellectual capital is not universally measurable, certain characteristics do help us in deciding which cities have a higher concentration of educated minds. Talent—or what economists refer to as human capital—is a part of it, and so is higher education, comprehension of multiple languages, and generated revenue across multiple fields. 

It’s no secret that the Golden State has acted as somewhat of a magnet for smart and talented people throughout the years, leading to a divergence of talent in many fields. A booming tech industry, world-famous entertainment, and one of the world’s most coveted education systems wouldn’t all be present in California if it weren’t for the talented locals coming from the most educated cities in the world.

As the heart of the high-tech sector in the U.S., San Jose is renowned for its education system and its tertiary institutions.

The Educated Cities to Check Out Next

San Jose 

Bachelor’s degree or higher: 45%

High school grad or higher: 85.4%

People who speak at least one more language other than English: 59.1%

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According to a study by Wallethub, San Jose is the most educated city in California along with Santa Clara and San Benito, as well as the second most educated in the entire country after Ann Arbor, Michigan. The study analyzed several factors such as college degree rates, quality of public schools, and race and gender education gaps. As predicted, San Jose performed exceptionally all around. 

As one of California’s most educated cities, San Jose hosts some of the best colleges in and around the area such as San Jose State, Stanford, and Santa Clara University. Other distinguished universities include California University of Management and Technology, University of Silicon Valley, and Lincoln Law School of San Jose. Many of these universities have also seen an increase in the number of students who graduate in STEM. So, if you want to live in a city of brainiacs, San Jose is where it’s at.

Art schools, a music conservatory, and an institute of integral studies reflect the artistic background of San Francisco.

San Francisco 

Bachelor’s degree or higher: 59.2%

High school grad or higher: 88.4%

People who speak at least one more language other than English: 42.3%

Another Bay Area city unsurprisingly making the list is none other than San Francisco. The Greater San Francisco metropolitan area is home to a large number of world-renowned universities, which definitely helps in nurturing skills and pushing talented people to the forefront.

However, this educated city has a large racial education gap. There’s no denying that some of the best colleges in the country are located here, however, many people don’t have access to receive proper education in these institutions. 

It’s also important to point out that while the Bay Area has a large number of smart STEM workers in its vicinity, about 60 percent of them are immigrants. So, the educated city acts as a magnet for tech influencers rather than breeding them. Nevertheless, San Francisco provides people the opportunity to prosper more than almost any other city.

L.A. is one of the nation's premier centers for higher education. Within the city limits are several top-ranked colleges and universities.

Los Angeles 

Bachelor’s degree or higher: 6.6% 

High school grad or higher: 52.3%

People who speak at least one more language other than English: 73.4%

Los Angeles has a significantly lower number of college graduates according to the data by Census Reporter. Interestingly enough, L.A. is the city with the most colleges and universities in the entire nation. You can find about 230 higher education institutions in the Greater Los Angeles area alone, with top-performing colleges like UCLA and USC within its ranks. 

It’s difficult to categorize intellect and education, and L.A., being the city with most colleges, is the perfect example of that. Los Angeles’ influence is evident in the film, music, fashion, and entertainment industries, and these cultural successes wouldn’t be possible without exceptionally bright minds. This just goes to show that the different and unique cities of California attract different types of people. Next time someone stereotypes Angelenos as uneducated or dim, you show them how much of L.A. and its people is present in their daily life.

Private educational institutions host approximately 6,500 students every year from across the country and around the world in Claremont.

Claremont

Bachelor’s degree or higher: 56% 

High school grad or higher: 94.2%

People who speak at least one more language other than English: 28%

How could we not include the “City of Trees and PhDs?” A quaint and beautiful college town, Claremont is nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains just 45 minutes from Los Angeles. We can’t put a finger on why so many doctoral residents choose to come to this educated city, but we totally get the appeal. Tree-lined streets, an interesting downtown, and idyllic scenery are definitely a part of it, but its small yet excellent colleges might be the biggest draw.

Collectively known as the Claremont Colleges (since the facilities are shared), the seven higher education institutions in this college town are nothing short of amazing. However, the universities aren’t the only proof of the brainpower present in Claremont’s history. Intelligent planning has been a Claremont city hallmark before the concept was a thing. Early residents of this city deliberately planned, enforced regulations, and had an active architecture commission since Claremont was incorporated in 1887. 

Berkeley is home to the oldest campus in the University of California system, UC, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Berkeley

Bachelor’s degree or higher: 76.5% 

High school grad or higher: 96.4%

People who speak at least one more language other than English: 29%

Berkeley is undoubtedly one of California’s best college towns to live in, so we’re not exactly surprised that it’s also one of its most educated cities. A town consumed by an emblematic university, Berkeley is across the east shore from San Francisco, known for its progressive politics. Significantly more liberal than most other cities in the nation, Berkeley has a history full of young reformers pushing for change through activism and rallies. 

Like many other cities surrounding Silicon Valley, Berkeley is also an educated city largely attracting tech-savvy minds. But, the arts and culture scene here is just as thriving. The college town is a foodie haven with everything from artisanal cafes to authentic Chinese restaurants—Berkeley also has a very cool live music and performing arts scene, and is also diverse ethnically and racially. 

There are plenty of fun cultural events happening in the city throughout the year. So, if blending in with the scene in Berkeley was a worry of yours, you can totally forget about it.

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