The New York Times agreed yesterday to pay minority employes $685,000 in an out-of-court settlement of a racial discrimination suit against the newspaper.

The Times also agreed to move minorities into high-ranking management positions on the editorial and business sides of the newspaper, provide journalism scholarships for minority students and give minority reporters on its metropolitan staff opportunities to serve on choice news beats.

Black, Hispanic and Asian employes had filed suit against the newspaper six years ago, charging that there had been a consistent pattern of racial bias in hiring, pay and promotions at the newspaper. A study by an economics professor they retained, which was disputed by Times management, found that blacks were concentrated in the lowest-paying positions at the newspaper and earned on average $46 a week less than whites.

Spokesmen for the newspaper pointed out yesterday that the agreement stated specifically that there had been no finding of discrimination by the newspaper.

A Times spokesman estimated that about 36 more minorities would be hired over the next five years to meet the terms of the agreement. Currently about 400 of 2,200 Times editorial and commerical employes are members of minority groups, he said.

The Times agreed to pay $285,000 to the four plaintiffs and 71 witnesses in the suit. The newspaper also agreed to put another $400,000 into what company spokesmen described as an affirmative action fund. Spokesmen for the plaintiffs said that money would be distributed among the other 325 minority-group members at the newspaper who also were covered by the class-action suit.

A spokesman for the plaintiffs estimated that the most any minority employe would receive would be about $8,500.

"[The agreement] not only has an effect on the type of person hired but the kind of news the paper produces. That's the important thing," said Gerald Fraser, a spokesman for the plaintiffs. "Nobody got enough money to go jump up and down."

In the settlement, The Times agreed to:

Provide journalism scholarships to four minority students each year over the next five years, with preference being given to employes of The Times.

Give minority reporters on the metropolitan staff of the newspaper the opportunity to serve for a year on one of several premier local beats, such as New York City politics, investigations or transportation.

Set aside for minorities three training positions for professional jobs on the newspaper for each of the five years covered by the settlement.

All disputes arising from implementation of the settlement will be referred to a master working under the federal judge in the case.

Two years ago, The New York Times settled out of court a sex discrimination suit brought by women employes.