Yale's University's seven-month search for a new president may end today when the school's governing body meets in Washington to evaluate the final candidates. The hush-hush search has narrowed to nine persons, Yale Corp. members revealed last week.

William P. Bundy, chairman of the corporation's search committee, said there's a good chance the trustees will select a new president at today's special session and disclose his or her identity later this month.

The position was vacated last spring when Kingman Brewster, a controversial spokesman for campus liberalism in the '60s, opted for diplomacy in the '70s, ending his 14-year term to become U.S. ambassador to Great Britain.

The race to succeed him as Yale's 18th president has several long-shot entries and few front-runners. Secrecy shrouds the identities of the finalists, but on campus it is widely contended that the field includes a former U.S. presidential candidate, a businesse executive and a smattering of academics and school administrators.

Among the dozen names frequently mentioned as leading candidates are Yale alumni William Scranton ('39), former Pennsylvania governor and U.N. ambassador: Walter McNerney ('47). Blue Cross Association president; Prosser Gifford ('51). Amherst College dean, and William Muir ('54), professor of political science at Berkeley.

Also allegedly in contention are three "outsiders," men with no previous relationship to Yale: Richard Lyman. Stanford president and fund-raising wizard: Henry Rosovsky, Harvard dean, and Thomas Ehrlich, former dean of Stanford Law School and now head of the Legal Services Corp.

A recent article in the Yale Daily News, the campus newspaper, claimed that within the Yale community the leading contenders are English professor A. Bartlett Giamatti, college dean Horace Taft (of the "presidential" Tafts), graduate school dean Jaroslav Pelikan, history professor Gaddis Smith, and acting president Hanna Gray, the only woman apparently on the list.

Gray denied newspaper accounts that she recently refused the presidency at the University of Chicago to wait for Yale's offer. She is reportedly a leading candidate for the top spot at several schools, including her alma mater, Bryn Mawr. But she is thought to have little chance of getting a permanent lease on the Yale job. As one Old Blue put it, =She may be the best candidate on the list, but Yale just isn't ready for a woman as president. It would be financial suicide in terms of alumni donations."

If there is a front-runner, faculty sources say, it is probably Gifford, Amherst energetic young dean. Consistently mentioned in the pess, as a leading candidate Gifford once taught history at Yale and reportedly turned down other college presidencies to try for this position. One Yale faculty member said. "I'll be very surprised at this point if Gifford doesn't get the job."

The two nonacademics, Scranton and McNerney, are advisers to the Campaign for Yale, a special fund-raising unit created to boost the school's slumping endowment by $370 million. Both have substantial alumni backing but their limited recent exposure to academia (McNerney taught hospital administration at Michigan 15 years ago) has apparently hurt their chances. Also working against Scranton is his age - he is 60.

Lyman and Rosovsky, the latter, considered an leading candidate at Chicago as well are two of the nation's most respected college administrators but their lack of Yale ties is viewed by insiders as a severe handicap. In addition, neither is apparently anxious to get the job. According to one Yale faculty member, "the corporation may have to do quite a selling job if it wants certain people to come here."

Of the other candidates, only the young hopefuls, Giamatti, 39M Ehrlich, 43, and Muir, 46, are given a reasonable chance, according to most press accounts.

The presidential search has been conducted with all the secrecy and solemnity of a papal election. In fact, scraps of paper left over from meetings are reportedly burned to prevent leaks.

The corporation scheduled today's special session in Washington to accomodate several members, including Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance. If Yale's trustees do not reach a decision then, they expect to conclude the search at the Dec. 16 meeting in New Haven. In either event, Yale should have a new president by the end of the month.