The 81-year-old activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner will receive the honour from York St John University’s chancellor, Archbishop Dr John Sentamu.
A greatly respected anti-apartheid activist, peace campaigner and champion of reconciliation, Archbishop Tutu has been described as “South Africa’s moral conscience”.
He was the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town.
Having risen to worldwide fame in the 1980s as a central figure in the fight against apartheid, he has used his high profile to campaign and fight numerous causes including Aids, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism and homophobia.
He is among a series of high-profile names who whose achievements will be recognised by York St John University during their graduation ceremony this week.
Today the university is presenting an honorary doctor of letters to Yorkshire poet Ian MacMillan in recognition of the work he has done to inspire people through his regular visits to schools, theatres, art centres, prisons and literary festivals where he shares his humour and passion for writing.
Mr MacMillan, a Yorkshire Post columnist, is one of the country’s best-known contemporary poets and was this year’s National Poetry Day “spokespoet”.
The university is also presenting a doctorate of letters to Glynn Ryland, industry talent manager for Channel 4, today.
Mr Ryland has strong links with York St John University having studied television, film and drama at the campus, graduating in 1992. Tomorrow Archbishop Tutu will be honoured alongside the university’s education and theology graduates.
Julia Unwin, the chief executive of the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, will become a doctor of laws tomorrow in recognition of her work in the voluntary sector.
On Friday comedienne, author, radio and television presenter Sandi Toksvig will become a doctor of letters.
She has a connection with the university as her daughter graduated from York St John last year having studied film and television production.
Dr Elizabeth White, the head of research and development at the College of Occupational Therapists, will receive a doctor of health sciences on Friday.
Hundreds of York St John University graduates will also receive their degrees over the next three days.
York St John’s vice chancellor, Professor David Fleming, said the university had striven to inspire their graduates in choosing six “exceptional individuals” to receive honorary degrees to this year.