The former England footballer turned TV pundit Alex Scott said it was "truly humbling" to be presented with an honorary doctorate.
Scott was one of three players to be awarded science doctorates by the University of Hertfordshire.
Kim Little, co-captain of Team GB's women's football team, and Watford legend Luther Blissett were also given the special recognition.
The ceremony at St Albans Cathedral saw 14 honorary doctorates awarded.
Scott, who was also a member of the British Olympic team at London 2012, said: "To receive an honorary doctorate in science truly is humbling, and is such a personal and professional achievement.
"I signed with Arsenal Football Club at the age of eight, and for most of my career I trained at the university's Hertfordshire Sports Village.
"The village quite simply became my home away from home for many decades of my sporting career - it is a very special place and deserves huge credit for my footballing progress."
Little is a Hertfordshire sports studies graduate, was co-captain of Team GB's squad in Tokyo this year, and has Arsenal captain and Scotland caption on her CV, although she has just retired as an international.
She previously won FA Women's Player of the Year and BBC Women's Footballer of the Year.
"It is a lovely feeling to be recognised with an honorary doctorate by the University of Hertfordshire for my contribution to sport," she said.
"Having completed my honours degree at the university 10 years ago now, it feels very special to come back and receive this award."
Luther Blissett is Watford's all-time record holder for appearances (503) and goals (186).
His three spells at the club between 1975 and 1993 saw the team rise from the old Fourth Division to the top flight.
In his international career, he became the first black player ever to score a hat-trick for England.
He later re-joined Watford as a coach, and moved into football punditry and campaigning for local community work and against discrimination.
The Hatfield-based university's full list of honorary degrees is available on its website.