# What is the Average IQ of University Students and College Graduates?

How much brain power does it take to get through College in a Western system of education? Before turning to this question, let’s brush up on general intelligence or IQ and its properties. Within a country, the average IQ is set to 100 points, and roughly half of the population will have an IQ greater than the average of 100, while the other half will have an IQ score which is lower than 100.

The distribution of IQ takes the shape of a ‘Bell Curve’ which is the layman’s way of saying that IQ scores are normally distributed. Based on millions of results for the most popular IQ tests in the United States, it is thought that the standard deviation of the test scores for the population as a whole is likely to be 16 points, although the standard deviation of IQ scores can vary from test to test.

Based on the statistical properties of the normal distribution, assuming a 16 point standard deviation, we know the following:

• 68% of the population will have an IQ score which is one standard deviation away from the mean score of 100 (i.e. IQ scores ranging from 84 to 116 points)
• 95.4% of the population will have an IQ score which is two standard deviations away from the mean (i.e. IQ of 68 to 132)
• 99.7% of the population will have an IQ score which is three standard deviations away from the mean (i.e. IQ of 52 to 148)
So what this tells us is that the farther away we get from the mean score of 100, the more rare the observation of an IQ score.

## The average IQ of university students – the data

So let’s come back to the question of college and what the average IQ of university students is. In the famous but controversial book “The Bell Curve”, Murray and Hernstein observed that the average IQ of university students had  increased from 111 IQ points in the 1930s, to 113 IQ points by the time their published their book in the 1990s. In other words, the average IQ of university students is less than one standard deviation away from the mean (assuming a 16 points SD).

An IQ score of 113 points is at the 79% percentile, meaning that in the United States, this translates into the top 21% of the population. In other words, one in five people have the average IQ of a university student.

But this is not to say that you need an IQ of 113 points to get into a university and stay there. In fact, OECD research from 2010 suggests that in OECD countries,  nearly 40% of young people between the ages of 25-34 have been through tertiary education (university equivalent education). The proportion of Americans in this age bracket with college degrees was over 40%, increasing to 55% of the population in Canada and nearly 65% of the population in Korea! In the United Kingdom, 49% of young people enrolled University a few years ago to beat the proposed tuition fee hike to £9,000 per annum.

The point is simple, you will probably struggle to get into a university which is moderately competitive if your IQ is 100. In fact, this is corroborates by a study which has found that IQs of 90 are rarely observed in either college graduates or professional jobs. A further study had shown that the average IQ of people who had completed 2/3 of their college education was 104.

On this basis, you will probably get into a not-so-competitive university with an IQ of 100, but that you may struggle to complete a reasonably academic degree if your IQ is less than 110 points.

The average IQ of university students will further depend on the university and the course that is taken.