Mary Jane Burwell, 48, a director of religious drama in Falls Church and a former college instructor, died of cardiac arrest Wednesday at Fairfax Hospital. She had been admitted there several days earlier for treatment of what was believed to be a viral infection.

Mrs. Burwell directed drama mainly at the Falls Church Presbyterian Church where she was a ruling elder. She also was an active member of the Fairfax County Medical Auxiliary and the Women's Golf Association of the Washington Golf and Country Club.

She was the wife of Dr. James A. Burwell, chairman of the radiology department at Fairfax Hospital.

She was born in Uniontown, Pa. She graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology school of drama. She earned a master's degree in oral interpretation from the University of Illinois. She then taught English and drama at Hood College.

After her marriage in 1956, Mrs. Burwell lived in Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh. She came here in 1962 after living in Morocco for two years while her husband was on duty there as a captain in the U.S. Air Force.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by two daughters, Bianca and Rebecca, all of Falls Church; a sister, Joanne Rush of Waynesburg, Pa., and two brothers, Dr. Ernest DeHaas of Carmichaels, Pa., and Dr. Robert DeHaas of Washington, Pa.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Heart Fund.