Beckett went to Stuyvesant High School, a public school in New York City reserved for highly gifted students. She then studied pre-law at Stanford, dreaming of becoming the first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, before transferring to New York University after her mother’s death to pursue a career in law enforcement. Between her junior and senior year of college, she spent a semester studying in Kiev, Ukraine.

In Food to Die For, Beckett becomes reacquainted with her old high school friend, Madison Queller, who revealed that they shared 9th grade French and expressed her surprise that “the biggest scofflaw at Stuy became a cop”.

In the series premiere, Castle performs a cold reading of Beckett stating his belief that most smart, good-looking women like her become lawyers and not police officers. He also speculates that she had a good college education and likely had many career options. In Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind, Castle asks Beckett about her views on deficit spending during difficult economic times and she indicates that she took a semester of economic theory at NYU.

Throughout the series, Beckett demonstrates functional knowledge of a broad range of general topics she has studied, to the point of having ready familiarity with and informed opinions on those topics, even in subjects she did not specialize in during her education or subsequent career, such as literature or economics. Castle occasionally remarks that he finds her intelligent and educated and that his character of Nikki Heat was written to reflect these traits.