The value of traditional education can vary widely across the country. While a college degree has long been viewed as a critical step toward the American dream, growing costs have led many students to reconsider the return-on-investment of higher education. Meanwhile, local economies and individual circumstances can push others toward learning a trade or entering the workforce early.

These considerations aside, national statistics show a clear difference in earnings as they relate to educational attainment, as college graduates typically earn 65% more than those with only a high school degree.

| Check out more lists and rankings from across Tennessee

To help understand areas with the lowest educational attainment, Stacker compiled a list of the least educated counties in Tennessee using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the lowest percentage of the population 25 years and over that has a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Ties are broken by the highest percentage with less than a high school diploma.

Keep reading on for a look at the least-educated counties in Tennessee.

50. Chester County

  • 16% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 14.8% ($27,688 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 39.1% ($31,363)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.1% ($40,156)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 9.5% ($43,403)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 6.5% ($59,583)

49. Fentress County

  • 16% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 17.1% ($14,196 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 43.6% ($24,026)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 23.4% ($26,450)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 11.7% ($43,023)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.3% ($46,125)

48. Cannon County

  • 15.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 15.5% ($31,143 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 45.6% ($34,979)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 23.2% ($37,123)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 9.9% ($49,803)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.9% ($55,605)

47. Stewart County

  • 15.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 12.8% ($23,726 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 44.8% ($29,545)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 26.8% ($31,000)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 10.1% ($43,323)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($51,094)

46. Obion County

  • 15.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 16.5% ($20,893 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 44.8% ($26,578)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 23.5% ($30,478)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 10.3% ($38,613)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($52,931)

45. Sequatchie County

  • 15.1% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 18.4% ($18,810 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 39.1% ($28,693)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 27.4% ($34,761)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 9.6% ($43,966)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.5% ($48,934)

44. Hardin County

  • 15% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 18.5% ($22,229 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 42.1% ($30,260)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 24.4% ($32,517)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 10.2% ($41,823)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($51,953)

43. Unicoi County

  • 14.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 15.1% ($17,353 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 39.4% ($25,616)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.7% ($33,520)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 10.3% ($44,167)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($60,000)

42. Marshall County

  • 14.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 14.6% ($28,375 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 41.4% ($31,618)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 29.4% ($37,190)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 10.3% ($46,780)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.4% ($50,398)

41. Decatur County

  • 14.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 14.1% ($22,066 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 42.3% ($26,357)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 29.1% ($31,294)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 10.8% ($42,013)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.8% ($53,313)

40. Warren County

  • 14.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 20.6% ($21,589 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 43.3% ($29,686)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 21.6% ($32,727)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 9.4% ($37,261)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.2% ($45,213)

39. Smith County

  • 14.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 14.7% ($25,996 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 46.5% ($32,847)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 24.3% ($33,215)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 9.1% ($44,681)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.3% ($55,333)

38. Henderson County

  • 14.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 17.2% ($25,879 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 42.3% ($29,400)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 26.1% ($33,509)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 10% ($47,574)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.4% ($54,331)

37. Humphreys County

  • 14.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 15% ($23,777 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 48.4% ($26,894)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 22.3% ($30,824)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 8.3% ($50,556)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 6% ($48,897)

36. Lawrence County

  • 14.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 16.6% ($22,397 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 44.3% ($29,632)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 24.8% ($31,534)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 8.6% ($41,966)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.7% ($49,876)

35. Clay County

  • 13.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 19.7% ($22,794 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 46.2% ($23,344)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 20.2% ($31,088)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 9.4% ($32,368)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($53,534)

34. Trousdale County

  • 13.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 15.6% ($16,364 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 38.4% ($33,902)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 32.2% ($32,039)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 9.3% ($36,471)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($53,701)

33. Crockett County

  • 13.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 18.8% ($23,233 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 40.5% ($29,242)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 26.8% ($35,861)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 8.6% ($43,306)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.3% ($57,500)

32. Hawkins County

  • 13.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 15.7% ($17,368 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 42.7% ($28,397)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 27.9% ($32,559)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 9.2% ($43,427)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($52,948)

31. Monroe County

  • 13.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 17.6% ($20,433 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 41.5% ($30,858)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 27.4% ($30,047)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 8.9% ($40,538)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($53,875)

30. Grundy County

  • 13.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 25.6% ($21,926 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 40.7% ($27,391)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 20.4% ($29,646)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 6.1% ($43,333)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 7% ($42,096)

29. Houston County

  • 13% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 22.8% ($21,250 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 47.1% ($31,161)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 17.1% ($25,698)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 8.4% ($41,176)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.6% ($62,955)

28. Marion County

  • 12.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 18.5% ($21,013 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 38.7% ($34,078)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 30.1% ($36,686)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 8.5% ($43,304)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.2% ($51,536)

27. Overton County

  • 12.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 19.3% ($20,192 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 46.7% ($29,144)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 21.2% ($35,995)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 8% ($48,545)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($47,047)

26. McNairy County

  • 12.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 17.3% ($23,915 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 45.4% ($30,465)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 24.6% ($31,540)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7.6% ($43,333)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($49,952)

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25. Campbell County

  • 12.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 22.8% ($23,243 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 40.6% ($27,885)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 24.2% ($31,323)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 8.1% ($41,946)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.3% ($46,367)

24. White County

  • 12.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 16.9% ($23,599 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 45.7% ($29,805)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 25.2% ($30,751)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7.8% ($40,278)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($46,722)

23. Benton County

  • 12.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 17.6% ($16,627 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 46.4% ($26,626)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 23.7% ($29,888)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7.8% ($37,616)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($51,250)

22. Bledsoe County

  • 12% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 24.4% ($25,280 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 39.8% ($28,542)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 23.8% ($35,849)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7.7% ($39,094)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.3% ($54,167)

21. Polk County

  • 11.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 17.6% ($26,069 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 39.4% ($31,175)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 31.1% ($32,869)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7% ($46,456)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.8% ($50,060)

20. Cocke County

  • 11.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 20% ($17,445 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 46.8% ($25,895)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 21.7% ($32,106)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7.4% ($38,478)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.2% ($45,875)

19. Johnson County

  • 11.6% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 20.2% ($15,068 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 41.6% ($20,730)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 26.6% ($31,570)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7.7% ($39,808)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.8% ($53,000)

18. Perry County

  • 11.5% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 25.2% ($23,901 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 38.5% ($31,172)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 24.9% ($32,284)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 6.4%
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($77,143)

17. Hardeman County

  • 11.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 20.4% ($23,731 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 46.8% ($29,726)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 21.7% ($30,836)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7.3% ($46,587)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.8% ($54,190)

16. Hancock County

  • 11.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 22.9% ($19,799 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 42.2% ($24,363)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 23.7% ($30,640)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 4.8% ($42,404)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 6.4% ($49,244)

15. Haywood County

  • 11% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 18% ($25,441 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 47% ($30,804)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 24% ($28,410)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 6% ($54,417)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 5.1% ($51,950)

14. Jackson County

  • 11% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 21.9% ($29,375 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 44.6% ($25,437)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 22.6% ($27,045)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7.6% ($39,738)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.5% ($47,122)

13. Hickman County

  • 10.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 21.5% ($23,813 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 44.3% ($30,181)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 23.3% ($36,832)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7.5% ($40,579)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.4% ($61,065)

12. Grainger County

  • 10.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 21.4% ($28,886 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 42.8% ($27,312)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 25.1% ($31,497)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 7.4% ($44,238)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.3% ($42,042)

11. Lewis County

  • 10.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 15.6% ($17,231 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 42.5% ($25,844)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 31.4% ($28,750)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 6.6% ($42,538)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.8% ($45,625)

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10. Macon County

  • 10.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 19.7% ($19,622 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 45.7% ($29,143)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 24.3% ($33,876)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 5.8% ($53,037)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.5% ($55,528)

9. Union County

  • 9.9% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 22.9% ($26,126 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 44.8% ($30,847)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 22.4% ($39,964)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 5.8% ($44,542)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4.1% ($66,424)

8. Meigs County

  • 9.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 16.2% ($31,066 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 45.4% ($38,088)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 28.6% ($36,250)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 5.9% ($47,083)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.9% ($54,781)

7. Wayne County

  • 9.7% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 19.8% ($18,476 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 46.6% ($26,207)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 23.9% ($28,056)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 5.7% ($52,545)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($43,454)

6. Morgan County

  • 9.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 19.8% ($16,779 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 48.5% ($27,861)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 22.4% ($32,134)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 5.8% ($53,611)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.5% ($51,654)

5. Pickett County

  • 9.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 25.6% ($22,292 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 38.2% ($21,793)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 26.7% ($32,883)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 5.5% ($43,088)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.9% ($52,438)

4. Lake County

  • 9.4% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 27% ($13,750 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 43.2% ($28,095)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 20.3% ($26,599)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 6.1% ($38,750)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.2% ($48,594)

3. Scott County

  • 9.2% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 20.2% ($31,250 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 44.3% ($26,457)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 26.3% ($32,268)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 5.7% ($47,238)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.5% ($51,464)

2. Lauderdale County

  • 8.3% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 23% ($22,513 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 45.4% ($31,072)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 23.4% ($31,584)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 4.7% ($40,000)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.5% ($61,111)

1. Van Buren County

  • 7.8% of population 25 years and over with Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Less than high school diploma: 21% ($24,853 median earnings)
  • High school graduate: 50.8% ($24,709)
  • Some college or Associate’s degree: 20.5% ($31,567)
  • Bachelor’s degree: 3.7% ($38,958)
  • Graduate or professional degree: 4% ($49,792)