Counties with the most college graduates in North Carolina

Written by:
July 2, 2022
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Counties with the most college graduates in North Carolina

The American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey once said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” Dewey advocated for an educational paradigm called pragmatism, which stresses the importance of learning academic concepts by experiencing them firsthand, instead of through lecture and repetition in a classroom.

While the philosophy is used by many educators (especially those working in fields where the value of work experience exceeds the value placed on an academic background), many people take great pride in their formal educational credentials because of the valuable skills such educations provided and because of the immense amount of work that goes into earning a degree.

Stacker compiled a list of counties with the most college graduates in North Carolina using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the highest percent of the population 25 years and over that has a Bachelor’s degree or higher using 2020 5-year estimates.

Keep reading to see which counties in your state have the most college graduates.

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#30. Craven County

- 25.0% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.1% ($23,859 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 25.8% ($28,872)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 38.2% ($36,052)
- Bachelor's degree: 15.5% ($51,697)
- Graduate or professional degree: 9.5% ($62,979)

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aceshot1 // Shutterstock

#29. Currituck County

- 25.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.1% ($23,049 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 31.3% ($38,078)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.3% ($47,550)
- Bachelor's degree: 18.2% ($51,178)
- Graduate or professional degree: 7.1% ($66,369)

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Warren LeMay // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Alamance County

- 25.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12.5% ($23,621 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 27.9% ($30,000)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.2% ($37,042)
- Bachelor's degree: 17.5% ($50,009)
- Graduate or professional degree: 7.9% ($62,820)

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#27. Cumberland County

- 25.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.5% ($21,589 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 26.4% ($26,288)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 39.5% ($32,086)
- Bachelor's degree: 16.7% ($43,761)
- Graduate or professional degree: 8.9% ($63,029)

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#26. Clay County

- 27.0% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.9% ($25,464 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 27.8% ($30,918)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.3% ($37,721)
- Bachelor's degree: 17.6% ($43,452)
- Graduate or professional degree: 9.5% ($73,264)

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#25. Haywood County

- 27.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.5% ($24,266 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 26.3% ($27,418)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.4% ($32,253)
- Bachelor's degree: 17.0% ($46,752)
- Graduate or professional degree: 10.8% ($56,061)

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AbeEzekowitz // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Jackson County

- 28.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12.0% ($22,124 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 28.1% ($27,846)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.5% ($31,794)
- Bachelor's degree: 15.7% ($40,514)
- Graduate or professional degree: 12.7% ($60,060)

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#23. Carteret County

- 28.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.9% ($22,858 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 25.4% ($26,136)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 38.2% ($31,734)
- Bachelor's degree: 17.0% ($48,727)
- Graduate or professional degree: 11.5% ($60,955)

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Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Pender County

- 29.0% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.2% ($19,917 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 27.5% ($30,579)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.3% ($32,323)
- Bachelor's degree: 19.3% ($50,527)
- Graduate or professional degree: 9.7% ($58,083)

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#21. Brunswick County

- 29.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.0% ($20,933 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 29.1% ($26,673)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.5% ($34,052)
- Bachelor's degree: 18.9% ($48,246)
- Graduate or professional degree: 10.5% ($53,817)

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Travis K. Witt // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Iredell County

- 29.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.7% ($28,888 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 27.6% ($32,703)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.1% ($36,186)
- Bachelor's degree: 20.7% ($54,166)
- Graduate or professional degree: 9.0% ($69,590)

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#19. Madison County

- 30.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.2% ($25,930 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.1% ($27,317)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.5% ($37,756)
- Bachelor's degree: 18.8% ($44,306)
- Graduate or professional degree: 11.3% ($44,143)

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#18. Henderson County

- 31.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.6% ($20,714 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 25.8% ($29,563)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.1% ($34,094)
- Bachelor's degree: 20.0% ($43,114)
- Graduate or professional degree: 11.5% ($56,135)

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#17. Pitt County

- 32.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.0% ($21,911 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 24.2% ($28,801)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.7% ($32,926)
- Bachelor's degree: 20.3% ($44,692)
- Graduate or professional degree: 11.7% ($61,639)

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Limozine // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Polk County

- 32.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.4% ($31,632 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 25.9% ($30,958)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.0% ($31,656)
- Bachelor's degree: 20.5% ($35,459)
- Graduate or professional degree: 12.2% ($50,455)

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PHHI // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Cabarrus County

- 33.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.4% ($30,309 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 25.4% ($33,304)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.7% ($37,364)
- Bachelor's degree: 21.3% ($56,287)
- Graduate or professional degree: 12.3% ($67,351)

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Warren LeMay from Cincinnati, OH, United States // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Transylvania County

- 33.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.0% ($15,514 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 24.6% ($30,158)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.5% ($30,033)
- Bachelor's degree: 21.0% ($37,245)
- Graduate or professional degree: 12.8% ($42,219)

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#13. Forsyth County

- 33.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 11.0% ($23,741 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 25.1% ($28,861)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.0% ($34,530)
- Bachelor's degree: 21.0% ($47,448)
- Graduate or professional degree: 12.9% ($63,941)

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Beckycafferylepage // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Union County

- 36.0% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.4% ($28,392 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 23.6% ($33,757)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.0% ($44,025)
- Bachelor's degree: 24.6% ($60,816)
- Graduate or professional degree: 11.4% ($85,301)

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#11. Guilford County

- 36.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.4% ($23,956 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 23.5% ($29,110)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 29.5% ($33,179)
- Bachelor's degree: 23.4% ($50,091)
- Graduate or professional degree: 13.2% ($59,115)

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MarkVanDykePhotography // Shutterstock

#10. Dare County

- 38.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 5.6% ($23,246 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 21.9% ($28,845)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.2% ($32,064)
- Bachelor's degree: 25.6% ($46,064)
- Graduate or professional degree: 12.7% ($51,628)

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#9. Moore County

- 38.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.6% ($22,846 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 21.7% ($29,670)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.9% ($34,127)
- Bachelor's degree: 24.1% ($49,506)
- Graduate or professional degree: 14.6% ($66,753)

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#8. Buncombe County

- 41.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 8.3% ($21,954 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 23.1% ($26,597)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 27.1% ($32,009)
- Bachelor's degree: 25.1% ($42,746)
- Graduate or professional degree: 16.3% ($53,631)

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PatGallery // Shutterstock

#7. New Hanover County

- 42.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6.8% ($21,894 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 19.9% ($27,301)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.1% ($36,085)
- Bachelor's degree: 27.8% ($46,880)
- Graduate or professional degree: 14.5% ($61,663)

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G Keith Hall // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Watauga County

- 42.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.4% ($20,423 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 21.0% ($24,289)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.9% ($28,113)
- Bachelor's degree: 23.3% ($37,440)
- Graduate or professional degree: 19.4% ($58,403)

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#5. Chatham County

- 43.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.9% ($22,556 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 19.7% ($28,204)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 25.7% ($36,700)
- Bachelor's degree: 23.6% ($60,737)
- Graduate or professional degree: 20.1% ($80,978)

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#4. Mecklenburg County

- 45.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 9.5% ($24,792 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 16.6% ($30,273)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28.1% ($36,136)
- Bachelor's degree: 30.2% ($58,992)
- Graduate or professional degree: 15.6% ($75,727)

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#3. Durham County

- 49.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.4% ($22,472 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 17.7% ($25,850)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 22.4% ($35,001)
- Bachelor's degree: 25.7% ($52,420)
- Graduate or professional degree: 23.7% ($65,978)

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Bz3rk // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Wake County

- 54.0% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 6.6% ($24,524 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 14.7% ($31,102)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 24.7% ($40,274)
- Bachelor's degree: 33.5% ($61,652)
- Graduate or professional degree: 20.5% ($78,375)

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Bryan Pollard // Shutterstock

#1. Orange County

- 60.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 7.0% ($23,207 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 12.5% ($30,908)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 19.6% ($33,009)
- Bachelor's degree: 26.1% ($47,366)
- Graduate or professional degree: 34.8% ($75,633)

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