High School Completion

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Percentage of adults ages 25 and over with a high school diploma or equivalent. The 2024 Annual Data Release used data from 2018-2022 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 peers with less education.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. We use American Community Survey data for 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. 

Caution should be used when comparing these estimates across years

Caution should be used when comparing data across years as data comes from overlapping 5-year spans. Additionally, margins of error for 5-year estimates containing data collected in 2020 increased compared to prior 5-year estimates. For more information about data comparability please visit Comparing 2022 American Community Survey Data.


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 Health Snapshots is a 5-year average. However, for counties with a population greater than 20,000, single-year estimates can be obtained from the resource 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 data on high school completion stratified by age and race/ethnicity from the U.S. Census Bureau (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. In: Kaplan RM, Spittel ML, David DH, eds. Population health: Behavioral and social science insights. AHRQ Publication No. 15-0002. 2015;347-384.

2 Egerter S, Braveman P, Sadegh-Nobari T, Grossman-Kahn R, Dekker M. Education matters for health. Princeton: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Commission to Build a Healthier America. 2009: Issue Brief 6.

3 Heckman JJ, Humphries JE, Veramendi G, UrzĂșa SS. Education, health and wages. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). 2014: Working Paper 19971.

4 Zajacova A, Everett BG. The nonequivalent health of high school equivalents. Social Sciences Quarterly. 2014;95(1):221-238

5 Ma J, Pender M. Education pays 2023: The benefits of higher education for individuals and society. New York: The College Board; 2023.