She received her B.A. from Smith College, where she studied with Prof. Em. Lester Little. She did her graduate work at Columbia University, where she received an M.A. (History), an M.Phil. (Religion), and a Ph.D. (Religion). Her Doktorvater was Prof. Robert Somerville and she also worked closely with Prof. Em. Caroline Walker Bynum. She was a post-graduate research assistant for Prof. Em. Giles Constable at the Institute for Advanced Study.
Prof. Beach has held visiting and permanent positions at The Ohio State University, the College of William and Mary, Temple University, the University of Cologne, the University of Trier, the University of Bonn, Princeton Theological Seminary, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary (New York).
In 2013-14, she was a Member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She is currently President of the Association of Members of the IAS (AMIAS), having formerly served as Treasurer. She has also received fellowhips and grants from the German-American Fulbright Commission, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung.
In November 2017 Prof. Beach was honored for her outstanding teaching at Ohio State with a Ronald and Deborah Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award. She also received teaching awards at the College William and Mary.
Prof. Beach's second monograph, The Trauma of Monastic Reform: Community and Conflict in Twelfth-Century Germany was published by Cambridge University Press in November 2017. She has also completed Monastic Experience in Twelfth-century Germany: The Chronicle of Petershausen in Translation (Manchester University Press, 2020), the first English-language translation of the Chronicle of Petershausen, with Dr. Shannon Li and Prof. Samuel Sutherland, who both completed their Ph.D.s at Ohio State under Prof. Beach's supervision in 2017.
Prof. Beach's first monograph, Women as Scribes: Book Production and Monastic Reform in Twelfth-Century was also published by Cambridge University Press (hardback 2004, paperback 2009).
With Prof. Isabelle Cochelin (U. Toronto), she has edited The Cambridge History of Medieval Western Monasticism in the Latin West, Cambridge University Press (2020). Prof. Beach has also edited, with Prof. Lisa Bitel (USC) and and Prof. Em. Constance Berman (U. Iowa), Sacred Communities, Shared Devotions: Gender, Medieval Culture, and Monastiscism in Late Medieval Germany (Brepols 2014), which was written by June Meachem and published posthumously. In 2007, Brepols also published Manuscripts and Monastic Culture: Reform and Renewal in Twelfth-Century Germany, which arose out of a conference she organized in 2002 at Stift Admont in Steiermark, Austria that brought together medieval scholars from both the English- and German-speaking traditions.
Prof. Beach is a founder of the Arbeitskreis geistliche Frauen im europäischen Mittelalter, which brings English- and German-speaking scholars from around the world who study religious women in the european Middle Ages. With other founders Dr. Letha Böhringer, Prof. Dr. Sigrid Herbodian, and Prof. Dr. Gisela Muschiol, she edits the publication series Santimoniales for Brepols.
Prof. Beach is married to Prof. David Jaeger, a professor of economics at the City University of New York Graduate Center, which whom she is collaborating on a large scale project in quantative medieval history to examine the relationship between monasteries, towns, and the ruling elite in 11th-13th century Germany. They have two grown children.