"I am humbled by and grateful to the students of Glasgow University for this historic statement in defense of our shared values," Snowden told Britain's The Guardian on Tuesday.
"This election shows that the students of Glasgow University intend to lead the way, and it is my great honor to serve as their rector," he said.
The victory in Tuesday's election is largely symbolic because U.S. criminal charges against Snowden make it unlikely that he would be able to travel to Britain, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S.
Snowden called his election a vote for academic freedom.
"In a world where so many of our developing thoughts and queries and plans must be entrusted to the open internet, mass surveillance is not simply a matter of privacy, but of academic freedom and human liberty," Snowden said.
Glasgow students earlier said they had contacted Snowden through his lawyers. The former NSA contractor, who is staying in Russia under temporary asylum, accepted the nomination last month.