One of football's most decorated figures, Ferguson was honoured by the University of Glasgow during a homecoming visit in which he also toured a pioneering cancer research centre.
The 71-year-old, who was born in the city's Govan area, won 13 league titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions League trophies during his 26 years in charge at Old Trafford.
He received his first honorary degree from Salford University in 1996 and has since been honoured by St Andrews, Stirling, Glasgow Caledonian and Aberdeen's Robert Gordon universities. He has also received two degrees from Manchester Metropolitan and others from Manchester and Ulster universities.
In his first public appearance since a hip operation in the summer, Ferguson toured Beatson Translational Cancer Research Centre and praised the 3,500 donations that raised £10 million for its construction.
The Beatson Pebble Appeal now needs to raise more money to buy equipment and attract the best scientists to work in the centre. A donation of £1 million from The Howat Foundation has started the second phase of fundraising.
Sir Alex said he has witnessed friends and family members with the disease and hopes centres like Beatson can improve survival rates.
"It is an honour to visit this new research facility that will help in the fight against cancer, which was funded by generous donations from many people. I am delighted The Howat Foundation has kicked off the next stage of fundraising with such a generous gift," he said.
"For too long Glasgow has been the cancer capital of Europe and, like many people over the years, I have seen family and friends afflicted by the disease.
"I hope that investment in research facilities like this will help us beat cancer and improve the health of the people of Glasgow, Scotland and beyond, so I encourage people to continue supporting the Beatson Pebble Appeal."
Professor Jeff Evans, director of the Institute of Cancer Sciences at the university, said: "We have a really strong research community here with expertise spanning basic cancer biology, drug discovery, translational medicine, through to clinical trials and all supported by outstanding facilities and technologies, with a true spirit of partnership and collaboration."