Malala, an outspoken proponent for girls' education, was at Harvard on Friday to accept the 2013 Peter J Gomes Humanitarian Award.
Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust said she was pleased to welcome Malala because of their shared interest in education.
The 16-year-old Malala said she was hoping to become a politician because politicians can have influence on a broad scale. She spoke nostalgically about her home region, the Swat Valley. She says she hopes to return someday.
Malala was shot in the head last October. Militants say she was attacked because she was critical of the Taliban, not because of her views on education.