NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When writing an article ranking the "smartest" and "dumbest" states in the Union it is important to explain your methodology. This list is based on the level of education a certain percentage of the residents of each state achieves.
As of 2010 men with a BA make 60% more than their counterparts with a high school diploma -- $40,000 to $64,000 -- while women with BA's make 56.6% more than their counterparts with a lower level of education -- $30,000 to $47,000, according to information compiled by the website infoplease.com
And the gulf is widening. Twenty years ago male college graduates only made 47.5% more than high school grads while female BA holders made 53% more.
For this reason you there is some correlation between states with higher percentages of people with Bachelor's and advanced degrees also having fewer people living below the poverty line.
One would think that states with more colleges and universities per capita might do better on this list but that is not necessarily the case. Vermont -- number 8 on the smartest list -- has the most schools per capita with 1 university per 36,545.3 residents, while New Jersey -- number 6 on the smartest list -- has the second lowest number of schools per capita with 1 university per 526,764.8 residents.
Intuitively, states offering better jobs will attract better educated residents. The correlation between states offering better employment opportunities and the number of college graduates residing there is strong. Maryland -- number 3 on the smartest list -- leads the nation in median household income at $70,004, while Mississippi and West Virginia -- numbers 3 and 1 respectively on the dumbest list -- are at the bottom of the median household income list.
Here is a list of the 10 "smartest" states based on percentage of the population with Bachelor's Degrees.
% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 31.5%
Median Household Income (2011): $56,954 (11th)
Average SAT Score (2013): 1780
The land of 10,000 lakes is home to 31 of the top 1000 publicly traded companies in the country including Target (TGT) - Get Report, SuperValu (SVU) and Best Buy (BBY) - Get Report. The world famous Mayo Clinic is also located in the Minnesota and employs 30,000 people in the state. As of 2006, more than 90% of seniors in the Minnesota public school system graduated, while the state led the country with the highest average ACT score in 2007.
9. New Hampshire
% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 32%
Median Household Income (2013): $60,567 (7th)
Average SAT Score (2013): 1567
New Hampshire boasts the seventh highest median household income in the country at $60,567. The state also has no general sales tax and no personal income tax. As of October 2010 the state's unemployment rate was 5.4%. According to a study by Phoenix Marketing International in 2013, the state had the eight-largest concentration of millionaires per capita in the country with a ratio of 6.48%.
8. New York
% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 32.4%
Median Household Income (2011): $55,246 (16th)
Average SAT Score (2013): 1463
The state of New York is home to the country's largest city, New York City, which is home to some of the biggest companies in the United States. Telecom companies like Verizon (VZ) - Get Report, banking institutions like JP Morgan (JPM) - Get Report and Citigroup (C) - Get Report and media conglomerates like ABC (DIS) - Get Report, CBS (CBS) - Get Report and NBC (CMCSA) - Get Report all call New York home. New York's gross state product in 2010 was $1.16 trillion, third in the country behind California and Texas.
% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 33.1%
Median Household Income (2011): $52,776 (19th)
Average SAT Score (2013): 1540
The state boasts the second lowest unemployment rate in the country at 3.3%, behind only North Dakota. Vermont is home to IBM (IBM) - Get Report which employs 5,400 people in the state and Fletcher Allen Health Care which employs another 5,000 Vermonters. Vermont has the lowest ratio of teachers to pupils in the country and 91% of the eligible population has graduated from high school.
% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 34%
Median Household Income: $61,280 (8th)
Average SAT Score: 1528
The Commonwealth of Virginia has the eighth highest median household income in the country at $61,280 with nearly 10% of households earning at least $200,000. The state boasted an unemployment rate of 5% as of March of this year. The Northern Virginia area, just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., is the hub for employment for the northern part of the state, while the tidewater region with major naval bases in Norfolk, contribute to employment in the eastern and southern parts of the state.
5. New Jersey
% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 34.5%
Median Household Income (2013): $69,667 (2nd)
Average SAT Score (2013): 1521
New Jersey posted the third highest per capita income in the country at $51,358 and a median household income of $69,667, second highest in the country. New Jersey is a hub for the pharmaceutical, chemical development, food processing and telecom industries. The state does have a high unemployment rate - 6.9%-- highlighting the disparity between the haves and the have nots in the state. New Jersey also has the highest disparity in the nation between what it pays in federal taxes ($77 billion) to what it receives from the federal government ($55 billion).
% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 35.6%
Median Household Income (2011): $67,276 (4th)
Average SAT Score (2013): 1532
Connecticut's personal income per capita was the highest in the nation last year at $60,847 while median household income was $67,276. Connecticut also has the second largest gap in the U.S. between the average incomes of the top 1% of the state's residents and the bottom 99%. The state's gross state product in 2012 was $229.9 billion. Connecticut is home to some of the oldest and most prestigious private schools and universities in the country, including Yale and Wesleyan Universities.
% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 35.7%
Median Household Income (2012): $71,122 (1st)
Average SAT Score (2013): 1483
Maryland households are the wealthiest in the country with a median household income of $71,122. 15.5% of the state's workforce are employed in high paying, high skilled professional, scientific or management careers, the highest percentage in the country. As of May this year the state boasted a 5.5% unemployment rate.
% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 35.9%
Median Household Income (2012): $56,765 (15th)
Average SAT Score (2013): 1721
Colorado was listed as the third best state for business in the country by CNBC in 2010. The state has the third highest concentration of professional, scientific and management workers behind only Maryland and Virginia and has a median household income of $56,765. 6.6% of the state's households earn abover $200,000 a year. Samsonite, Russel Stover Candies, Coors (TAP) - Get Report beer and Celestial Seasonings teas are all headquartered in the state. The United States Air Force Academy calls the state home as well as multiple military installations including NORAD.
% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 38.2%
Median Household Income (2013): $65,339 (5th)
Average SAT Score (2013): 1553
Massachusetts is home to some of the most prestigious schools in the world including Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tuffts University, Boston College and Wellesley also call the state home. The state reported a gross state product of $404 billion in 2012, while per capita personal income was third highest in the nation at $53,221. Median household income in the state was $65,339 last year. Nearly a third of working residents in the state were employed in education, health care or social assistance.