The 10 Smartest States in America

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

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.

10. Minnesota


% 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), SuperValu  (SVU) and Best Buy (BBY). 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.

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