Several factors are weighed into deciding where to attend graduate school. The two biggest are academic specialty and place.

With an election on the horizon I thought it would be interesting to come up with the top places to attend graduate school as indexed by US Congressional districts.

Most Congressional districts have several institutions of higher education. Here, I’m working only with a list of institutions that award degrees beyond the baccalaureate. Given the right mix of institutions and locale, these Congressional districts can act as microclusters of learning, research and living. In short, they can be very attractive places.

Here is a list of the top 25 Congressional districts as measured by the total annual spending by the universities within their districts. I’ve also added the number of graduate students enrolled at all of the universities within each district.

As a general rule, universities with the highest spending do so because of their research activity and/or because of affiliated hospitals. As a result, they tend to have higher numbers of graduate students compared to other institutions.

Philadelphia’s PA02 is ranked first by a substantial margin with over $10B in annual spending. Although PA02 has 17 universities offering graduate degrees within its boundaries, just three –the University of Pennsylvania ($5.9B), Temple University ($2.6B), and Drexel University ($0.89B)– account for over 90% of the university spending in the district.

There are 417 US Congressional districts with universities that have graduate programs. Total university spending within each ranges from just under $1 million (AZ06) to over $10 billion (PA02). University spending exceeds $1B in 115 of the 417 district.

These top 25 also account for just under 29% of all university spending in the US, and about 19% of all graduate student enrollment.

Why are spending and enrollment important metrics? These districts are the real hotbeds of knowledge creation and innovation. They serve as magnets attracting thousands of highly intelligent and motivated people each year into their graduate programs. They are important economic engines.

The data are for the year 2014 and derived from the US Department of Education (IPEDS).

Top 25 Congressional Districts by University Spending
District City Total University Spending Graduate Students
PA02 Philadelphia $10,313,383,600 52,747
NY10 New York $8,791,985,943 68,615
MA07 Boston $7,347,337,856 60,567
MD07 Baltimore $6,533,431,914 33,687
MI12 Ann Arbor $6,428,678,320 24,973
GA05 Atlanta $6,319,825,708 27,368
CA33 Santa Monica $5,922,450,274 18,219
IL07 Chicago $5,306,668,599 41,353
OH03 Columbus $5,073,048,775 19,153
MA05 Cambridge $5,024,771,155 40,906
NC01 Elizabeth City $4,986,536,153 12,693
PA05 Huntingdon $4,706,251,793 16,151
CA12 San Francisco $4,589,191,727 16,606
WA07 Seattle $4,331,811,473 18,581
TN05 Madison $4,302,498,800 15,175
NC04 Durham $4,180,768,391 25,798
DC01 Washington $4,118,206,412 47,183
CA18 Palo Alto $4,009,398,368 14,098
CA49 La Jolla $3,871,147,744 20,208
NY25 Rochester $3,809,433,530 12,982
CT03 Middletown $3,797,940,588 15,559
IL01 Chicago $3,766,105,704 21,568
CA03 Davis $3,576,494,000 6,968
UT02 Salt Lake City $3,420,486,971 10,686
IL13 Decatur $3,418,918,262 24,085