Which Michigan counties have the most college graduates?


Washtenaw County, home of University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, ranks No. 1 among Michigan counties in educational attainment among adults age 25 and older, according to the most recent U.S. Census Data.

Washtenaw has the highest percentage of adults who have attended college; highest percentage of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, highest percentage with a graduate or professional degree.

At the other end of the spectrum is Lake County, located between Grand Rapids and Traverse City. Among Michigan’s 83 counties, Lake has the lowest percentage of college graduates, lowest percentage who have attended college and the highest rate of adults without a high school diploma.

And it’s no coincidence that Washtenaw is one of the state’s most affluent counties in terms of median household income while Lake is among the poorest. At a time when employers are looking for well-educated workers, educational attainment is highly correlated to income and employment rates, as well as other life outcomes.

People with post-secondary degrees  are more likely to be employed. They have higher incomes. They are less likely to commit crimes and rely on social safety-net programs. They are more likely to marry, and raise children in two-parent families. They are more likely to be engaged in their communities. On the whole, more education is correlated to better health and longer lifespans.

Fast facts about educational attainment in Michigan

Below is a ranking of the 83 counties based on percentage of adults age 25 and old who have at least a bachelor’s degree. The rankings are based on the Census Bureau’s five-year average for 2012-16, which is the most recent county-level data. 

First is an interactive map that provides a statewide look at the percentage of Michigan residents age 25 and older who have at least a bachelor’s degree. You can put your cursor over any county to see the underlying data.