Least educated counties in North Carolina

Written by:
November 13, 2021
Canva

Least educated counties in North Carolina

The value of traditional education can vary widely across the country. While a college degree has long been viewed as a critical step toward the American dream, growing costs have led many students to reconsider the return-on-investment of higher education. Meanwhile, local economies and individual circumstances can push others toward learning a trade or entering the workforce early.

These considerations aside, national statistics show a clear difference in earnings as they relate to educational attainment, as college graduates typically earn 65% more than those with only a high school degree.

To help understand areas with the lowest educational attainment, Stacker compiled a list of the least educated counties in North Carolina using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the lowest percent of the population 25 years and over that has a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Ties are broken by the highest percent with less than high school diploma.

Keep read on for a look at the least-educated counties in North Carolina.

1 / 50
Ammodramus // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Wilson County

- 19.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.7% ($20,982 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 31.5% ($28,544)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 29.2% ($31,764)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.9% ($44,891)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($58,042)

2 / 50
James R Poston // Shutterstock

#49. Cherokee County

- 19% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12.8% ($22,218 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.8% ($25,216)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.3% ($30,957)
- Bachelor's degree: 11% ($41,363)
- Graduate or professional degree: 8.1% ($56,172)

3 / 50
Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Wayne County

- 19% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 15.5% ($20,051 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 30.5% ($28,683)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.9% ($31,778)
- Bachelor's degree: 13% ($42,468)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6% ($52,806)

4 / 50
Bud Davis, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Pamlico County

- 18.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12% ($22,321 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 31% ($30,995)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 38.4% ($31,290)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.7% ($39,327)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.9% ($44,453)

5 / 50
AlexiusHoratius // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Rowan County

- 18.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 14.4% ($23,760 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.6% ($31,286)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.5% ($33,641)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.1% ($44,297)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.4% ($52,176)

6 / 50
Dennis Brown // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Davidson County

- 18.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.1% ($25,634 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.8% ($31,132)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.6% ($35,767)
- Bachelor's degree: 13.3% ($47,289)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($52,292)

7 / 50
Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Swain County

- 18.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.2% ($20,188 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 30.6% ($26,020)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31% ($27,006)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.8% ($50,990)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.4% ($55,313)

8 / 50
G Keith Hall // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Surry County

- 18% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.5% ($25,200 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 28.9% ($29,726)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.6% ($32,435)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.2% ($46,988)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($48,333)

9 / 50
Nolichuckyjake // Shutterstock

#42. Rutherford County

- 17.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.2% ($25,264 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.5% ($28,148)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.5% ($30,746)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.2% ($43,250)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($55,227)

10 / 50
CZmarlin — Christopher Ziemnowicz // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Hoke County

- 17.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 12.9% ($19,221 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 28.7% ($26,982)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 40.7% ($36,370)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.9% ($47,411)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($56,190)

11 / 50
OptimumPx // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Cleveland County

- 17.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 15.8% ($24,521 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.4% ($26,946)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.2% ($31,252)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.9% ($44,008)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.7% ($49,922)

12 / 50
RnR // Wikimedia Commons

#39. McDowell County

- 17.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.1% ($22,261 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.4% ($31,749)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34% ($33,121)
- Bachelor's degree: 12% ($45,678)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.4% ($52,531)

13 / 50
Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Stanly County

- 17.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 14.7% ($24,658 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.3% ($31,281)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.7% ($35,479)
- Bachelor's degree: 12.5% ($45,788)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($52,487)

14 / 50
Canva

#37. Alleghany County

- 17.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 22.6% ($18,359 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 29% ($22,943)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.2% ($30,121)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.4% ($40,179)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.9% ($40,764)

15 / 50
Thomas T. Waterman, Photographer // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Camden County

- 17.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 13.5% ($24,259 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 29.4% ($31,719)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 40% ($48,556)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.7% ($45,147)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.4% ($54,063)

16 / 50
Alanteitleman // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Martin County

- 16.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.6% ($21,265 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.9% ($24,341)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.1% ($30,170)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.7% ($43,707)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($48,281)

17 / 50
Ron Reiring // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Burke County

- 16.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.4% ($23,050 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 31.4% ($27,707)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.8% ($30,124)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.6% ($43,147)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($52,500)

18 / 50
NatalieMaynor from Jackson, Mississippi, USA // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Caswell County

- 15.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.5% ($20,698 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.6% ($30,548)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.9% ($33,046)
- Bachelor's degree: 11% ($49,870)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($47,563)

19 / 50
Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Warren County

- 15.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.5% ($22,065 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.7% ($25,996)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 29.1% ($30,874)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.5% ($41,375)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.3% ($26,797)

20 / 50
ncwetlands.org// Wikimedia Commons

#31. Bladen County

- 15.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.7% ($23,465 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.4% ($26,507)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.1% ($31,163)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.2% ($40,787)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($50,833)

21 / 50
Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Wilkes County

- 15.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.9% ($21,287 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 31.7% ($30,344)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.6% ($31,945)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.4% ($47,430)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.4% ($52,904)

22 / 50
Donald Lee Pardue // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Randolph County

- 15.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.5% ($23,326 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.5% ($31,041)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.3% ($35,089)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.3% ($43,824)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.4% ($51,250)

23 / 50
Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Richmond County

- 15.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.1% ($17,218 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.2% ($28,161)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33% ($28,925)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.4% ($40,128)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.3% ($54,111)

24 / 50
Nolichuckyjake // Shutterstock

#27. Caldwell County

- 15.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20% ($24,283 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.5% ($29,697)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.7% ($30,425)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.7% ($43,378)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($50,855)

25 / 50
Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Montgomery County

- 15.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.6% ($26,390 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.6% ($26,549)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 29.2% ($30,451)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.6% ($48,876)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5% ($46,683)

26 / 50
Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Person County

- 15.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 13.5% ($21,448 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.4% ($32,175)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.5% ($39,318)
- Bachelor's degree: 11.4% ($41,989)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.1% ($55,970)

27 / 50
Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Scotland County

- 15.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.8% ($26,176 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.9% ($28,803)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.7% ($30,427)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.9% ($40,379)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($51,781)

28 / 50
Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Rockingham County

- 15.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 17.4% ($23,422 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.9% ($28,371)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.8% ($33,626)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.3% ($45,771)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($53,704)

29 / 50
Boston Public Library // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Hertford County

- 14.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.3% ($23,158 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.7% ($27,311)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 33.2% ($29,129)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.1% ($32,003)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.8% ($53,711)

30 / 50
Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Lenoir County

- 14.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.3% ($19,338 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 31.9% ($26,626)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.8% ($30,463)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.1% ($41,238)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.9% ($53,060)

31 / 50
Pollinator // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Vance County

- 14.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.6% ($19,480 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37% ($27,746)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28.6% ($27,326)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.3% ($41,751)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($45,457)

32 / 50
Cecouchman // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Halifax County

- 14.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 21.4% ($16,587 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.2% ($25,670)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.9% ($29,084)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.7% ($40,972)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.7% ($53,516)

33 / 50
Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Gates County

- 14.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 10.9% ($26,250 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.9% ($31,898)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 36.8% ($36,717)
- Bachelor's degree: 8% ($45,769)
- Graduate or professional degree: 6.3% ($45,395)

34 / 50
Ken Thomas // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Alexander County

- 14.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 17.6% ($28,321 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.7% ($30,685)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 29.5% ($32,384)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.7% ($46,763)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($54,667)

35 / 50
Jacalyn Engler // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Stokes County

- 14.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.2% ($23,898 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40% ($30,242)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 29.7% ($38,405)
- Bachelor's degree: 10.6% ($46,578)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.5% ($64,423)

36 / 50
gerrydincher // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Columbus County

- 13.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 17% ($21,884 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.3% ($28,179)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.8% ($30,511)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.2% ($43,011)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($53,601)

37 / 50
Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Northampton County

- 13.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.6% ($24,000 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.5% ($25,472)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 28.1% ($26,565)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.6% ($41,076)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($52,401)

38 / 50
State Archives of North Carolina Raleigh, NC // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Sampson County

- 13.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 20.7% ($22,275 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.2% ($28,727)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.4% ($29,467)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.7% ($39,801)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($53,662)

39 / 50
Katangais // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Robeson County

- 13.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 22.7% ($23,828 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.4% ($27,613)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.2% ($29,483)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.3% ($40,940)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.4% ($52,312)

40 / 50
State Archives of North Carolina // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Edgecombe County

- 13.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.8% ($20,835 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.5% ($27,425)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 30.1% ($30,305)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.4% ($41,576)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.2% ($52,589)

41 / 50
Theresaperry44 // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Bertie County

- 13.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 21.7% ($20,326 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.1% ($27,852)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.6% ($27,973)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.2% ($38,185)
- Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($34,712)

42 / 50
digidreamgrafix // Shutterstock

#9. Graham County

- 12.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.2% ($16,728 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.3% ($27,750)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.7% ($29,826)
- Bachelor's degree: 8% ($39,596)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4.9%

43 / 50
Tradewinds // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Jones County

- 12.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 18.9% ($19,779 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 34.4% ($27,341)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.5% ($33,858)
- Bachelor's degree: 9.1% ($41,250)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.1% ($50,000)

44 / 50
Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Duplin County

- 12.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 24.1% ($18,789 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 31.8% ($26,243)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32% ($28,081)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.1% ($42,252)
- Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($42,096)

45 / 50
Wasrts // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Yadkin County

- 11.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 17.7% ($25,510 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 33.8% ($31,304)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 36.8% ($38,250)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.9% ($45,666)
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.8% ($49,375)

46 / 50
Ymblanter // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Washington County

- 11.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 16.3% ($29,559 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 37.4% ($31,083)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 34.8% ($26,609)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.3% ($40,563)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.2%

47 / 50
Upstateherd // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Anson County

- 11.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.3% ($21,279 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 40.2% ($30,383)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 29.3% ($30,751)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.1% ($46,000)
- Graduate or professional degree: 3.2% ($53,000)

48 / 50
Indy beetle // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Greene County

- 11% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 25% ($20,451 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 32.9% ($27,216)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 31.1% ($30,454)
- Bachelor's degree: 8.5% ($43,046)
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.5% ($42,375)

49 / 50
HarmonyReignPope // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Tyrrell County

- 10.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 26% ($13,617 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 36.5% ($20,357)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 26.9% ($32,909)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.7% ($40,804)
- Graduate or professional degree: 2.8% ($53,000)

50 / 50
Canva

#1. Hyde County

- 9.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor's degree or higher

- Less than high school diploma: 19.2% ($18,026 median earnings)
- High school graduate: 38.7% ($22,317)
- Some college or Associate's degree: 32.9% ($32,277)
- Bachelor's degree: 7.5% ($50,337)
- Graduate or professional degree: 1.7%

Trending Now