Anne C. Yates, 63, the executive director of the American Association for Higher Education, died at George Washington University Hospital Wednesday of a cerebral aneurysm.

Miss Yates was born in Front Royal and grew up in Charlottesville and Alexandria. She graduated from the Medeira School in the Greenway section of McLean and attended the University of Virginia. She later worked in the institute of public affairs and the school of military government at U-Va.

In 1948, she returned to the Washington area and became a secretary in the department of higher education of the National Education Association. She worked her way up to be managing editor of its publications and to the position of administrative assistant.

In 1969, the higher education department split away from the NEA and became the American Association of Higher Education. Miss Yates was appointed assistant executive director of the new organization. Shortly before her death, she was named executive director.

Survivors include her brother, Dr. Harold T. Yates, a physician in Alexandria, and three sisters, Lucia A. White and Mrs. Coulter D. Young Jr., both of Alexandria, and Mrs. James V. Masella of Philadelphia.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Association for Higher Education, 1 Dupont Circle, Suite, 780, Washington, D.C., 20036.