The Appalachian Region continues to see improvements in all levels of educational attainment. In 2020, the number of Appalachian adults ages 25 and over with at least a high school diploma has risen more than two percentage points to 87.8%, with the greatest improvement in adults ages 65 and over. The Region’s high school completion prevalence is now almost equal to that of the country.
Appalachia continues to lead the nation in associate’s degrees, and the share of adults ages 25 and over in the Region with at least a bachelor’s degree has risen to 25.4%. However, despite these increases, the prevalence of four-year college completion among adults remains well below the U.S. average in many parts of the Region.
Learn more about education trends in Appalachia below.
87.8% of Appalachian adults ages 25 and over have earned at least a high school diploma, similar to the U.S. average of 88.5%. The Region’s two-percentage-point increase in 2016-2020 is likely due to the rising share of adults attaining a bachelor’s degree or more.
Meanwhile, the share of Appalachian adults ages 25 and over with an associate’s degree but no bachelor’s degree was 9.1% in 2016-2020—almost a full percentage point higher than in 2011-2015, exceeding the national average at 8.6%.
Similarly, the share of adults ages 25 and over in the Region with at least a bachelor’s degree also rose by 2.8 percentage points since 2011-2015 and now exceeds 25%, compared to the national average at 32.9%.
Change in Educational Attainment
More than 26.9% of Appalachian adults ages 25-64 hold a bachelor’s degree. Though more people hold a bachelor’s now than in 2015, there are educational attainment differences in Appalachia’s subregions. Central Appalachia, for example, is 18.5 percentage points below the national average.