The University of the District of Columbia has acted to save its jazz and gospel music programs by rescinding layoff notices sent last month to three music professors, a university spokesman said yesterday.

The three are among seven professors that top UDC administrators have decided not to fire after reviewing the 55 layoffs voted last month by university trustees, according to spokesman Tom Kelly.

Rafael L. Cortada, who takes over Oct. 1 as UDC president, said last week he hoped the jazz and gospel programs would be preserved. In late July, about 50 students, including members of the UDC Jazz Ensemble, staged a musical demonstration in support of the programs in front of the District Building.

The three musicians whose layoff notices were rescinded are Calvin Jones, a well-known performer, composer and arranger who has taught at UDC and the old Federal City College for 11 years; Pearl Jones, who heads the gospel music program, and Judith Korey, an assistant professor of jazz studies and music theory since 1972.

"This is predominantly a black institution," Calvin Jones said in an interview last month, "and I don't see how you can turn your back on your own culture."

Kelly said neither Acting President Claude A. Ford nor Samuel Sullivan, acting vice president for academic affairs, would comment on the decision to rescind some of the layoff notices until negotiations with the faculty union on the layoffs have concluded.

N. Joyce Payne, chairman of the UDC Board of Trustees, said trustees had authorized the administration to review the layoffs, which were made by order of seniority in underenrolled departments to ensure that no high-priority programs would be eliminated.

The trustees had ordered the 55 layoffs -- about 10 percent of the faculty -- in mid-July to even the teaching loads and provide funds to overcome "serious deficiencies" in UDC libraries, supplies, research and remedial programs. UDC's enrollment has dropped by almost 25 percent in seven years.

The layoffs were expected to save $2 million in fiscal 1988, which begins Oct. 1, but the decision to reduce by seven the number fired will shave the savings by an estimated $250,000.

Kelly said the other faculty members whose layoff notices have been rescinded are for two professors in the speech and audiology program and one each in respiratory therapy and engineering technology.

Samuel F. Carcione, president of the UDC Faculty Association, said his union is trying to arrange for some qualified faculty members on the layoff list to transfer to high-enrollment fields and to increase severance pay for any faculty members who resign. He said he hopes to reach an agreement with the university this weekend.

Faculty members are required to report Monday for the fall term, classes for which are scheduled to begin Aug. 21.