Nicole Watson-Philp was raised in Granger, Indiana and attended St. Mary's College - the sister school to the University of Notre Dame - in Notre Dame, Indiana. There, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
Ms. Watson-Philp then continued her education at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, earning her Juris Doctorate in 2009. During her last term of law school, Ms. Watson-Philp was a 7-11 intern law student at the Will County Public Defender's Office. She gained legal experience in both the juvenile and adult court systems. Ms. Watson-Philp was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November of 2009.
Ms. Watson-Philp accepted a position at the Juvenile Division on January 4, 2010, where she worked on juvenile delinquency, abuse, and neglect cases. She was promoted to the felony level in December 2016.