The Boston Globe said Rowling picked up the degree at the Harvard commencement ceremony Thursday.
She thanked Harvard and joked that she didn't want to inadvertently influence the graduates to stray from their career paths to pursue studies in witchcraft and wizardry, The Boston Herald said.
Rowling also spoke candidly about the years she struggled before finding fame and fortune with her "Potter" books.
"Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life," Rowling said. "You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships until both have been tested by adversity."
Rowling received a standing ovation upon finishing her address.
"I haven't read the books, but I thought her speech was fantastic," graduate Ted Skowronsky told the Herald. "She was very down-to-earth and shared her life story with a large degree of humility."