High School Completion

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Percentage of adults ages 25 and over with a high school diploma or equivalent. The 2023 County Health Rankings used data from 2017-2021 for this measure.

The relationship between education and improved health outcomes is well known, with a high school degree correlating strongly with higher life expectancies and improved quality of life.1,2 Educational level is associated with smoking status, exercise habits, as well as better physical health, such as lower rates of diabetes and improved self-reported health.1,3-5 Adults with high school degrees are more likely to be employed and earn more, on average, than their less educated counterparts.5

Find strategies to address High School Completion

Data and methods

Data Source

American Community Survey, 5-year estimates

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a nationwide survey designed to provide communities with a fresh look at how they are changing. It is a critical element in the Census Bureau's reengineered decennial census program. The ACS collects and produces population and housing information every year instead of every ten years, and publishes both one-year and five-year estimates. The County Health Rankings use American Community Survey data to obtain measures of social and economic factors.

Website to download data
For more detailed methodological information

Key Measure Methods

High School Completion is a percentage

High School Completion is the percentage of the population ages 25 and over that received at least a high school diploma or equivalent. 


The numerator is the total number of individuals ages 25 and over with at least a high school diploma or equivalent.


The denominator is the total number of individuals ages 25 and over in a county.

Can This Measure Be Used to Track Progress

This measure can be used to track progress with some caveats. It is important to note that the estimate provided in the County Health Rankings is a 5-year average. However, for counties with a population greater than 20,000, single-year estimates can be obtained from the resource listed below.

Finding More Data

Disaggregation means breaking data down into smaller, meaningful subgroups. Disaggregated data are often broken down by characteristics of people or where they live. Disaggregated data can reveal inequalities that are otherwise hidden. These data can be disaggregated by:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Subcounty Area

You can find this data stratified by age and race/ethnicity at https://data.census.gov/ (Table: S1501). For many communities, you can access these data at the census tract or census block level.


1 Zimmerman EB, Woolf SH, Haley A. Understanding the Relationship Between Education and Health: A Review of the Evidence and an Examination of Community Perspectives. Population Health: Behavioral and Social Science Insights. AHRQ Publication No. 15-0002. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, National Institutes of Health; July 2015. Pages: 347 -384.

2 Egerter S, Braveman P, Sadegh-Nobari T, Grossman-Kahn R, Dekker M. Education Matters for Health. Princeton, NJ: RWJF Commission to Build a Healthier America; 2009. Issue Brief 6.

3 Heckman JJ, Humphries JE, Veramendi G, Urzúa SS. Education, health and wages. National Bureau of Economic Research. 2014: Working Paper No. 19971.

4 Zajacova A, Everett BG. The nonequivalent health of high school equivalents. Social Sciences Quarterly. 2014; 95:221-238.

5 Ma J, Pender M, Welch M. Education pays 2016. The College Board. 2016.