The University of the District of Columbia said yesterday it plans to lay off 37 faculty members on July 1 and is planning to cut back on education, human ecology, life sciences and liberal arts courses in the upcoming school year, university officials said yesterday.

The layoffs which will be based on the seniority of faculty members, will be heaviest in the School of Education and Human Ecology, where enrollment has been dropping most severely in recent years. That school's faculty of Life Sciences will be reduced from 87 to 80 and the faculty in Liberal Arts from 224 to 216. UDC now has 610 faculty members and last fall had an enrollment of 13,901, including parttime students.

Dr. Samuel Sullivan, UDC's associate vice president for academic personnel, said the university will be offering fewer classes in several courses in the three schools and that courses that have not drawn many students, such as Chinese, will be cut from the curriculum.

University spokesman John Britton said the school's board of trustees approved the layoffs as part of the university's master plan that was adopted in December 1980. The plan showed that some schools, such as Education, were overstaffed with professors and others, including the Schools of Business and Physical Sciences, were understaffed.

Britton said the school's pupil-teacher ratio has been around 11 to 1, which is unusually low and that school officials wanted a ratio closer to 15 to 1.

As a result of the master plan and the study of faculty staffing which preceded it, the Schools of Business and Physical Sciences will each gain three more faculty members.

Britton said there are also plans to lay off as many a 25 of the university's current administrators, but did not say when.

He added that more layoffs of teachers and administrators are planned for the 1982-83 school year. But the layoffs both this year and next could be offset if several faculty members take advantage of an early retirement package the university is preparing, Britton said.

Most of the teachers laid off have been at the university less than 12 years, Sullivan said. Some had taught at the university's predecessor institutions, Federal City College, the Washington Technical Institute and the D.C. Teachers College, he said.

The final decisions on which courses and which sections will be cut have not yet been made, Sullivan said.