Karen DeYoung, foreign editor of The Washington Post, and Marlise Simons, a Latin American special correspondent for The Post, have been awarded two of this year's Maria Moors Cabot Prizes at Columbia University, the school announced yesterday.

In addition, Jacobo Timerman, a former Argentine journalist and human rights advocate, also will receive one of the awards for "distinguished contributions to the advancement of inter-American understanding."

Special citations will be presented to Stanley M. Swinton, vice president and director of world services for The Associated Press, and Elizabeth Cabot, widow of Ambassador John Moors Cabot.

The Cabot journalism prizes, established in 1939, are awarded by the trustees of Columbia University on the recommendation of the dean of the university's School of Journalism.

The three prize winners will receive a gold medal, a certificate and $1,000 each at ceremonies at Columbia.

Several previous Argentine winners of Cabot prizes have protested the selection of Timerman, who was publisher of the Buenos Aires daily La Opinion until his arrest in 1977 by Argentine security forces.

Timerman, now living in Israel, was arrested in 1977 because the military suspected he had ties with the Montenero guerrillas. Later, he was expelled by the military junta.

"I am pained that Timerman, a political opportunist, an encourager of Marxist terrorism . . . is considered on a par with former awardees," newspaper publisher Diana Julio de Massot said in a telegram to Columbia.

"Please erase my name from future prize lists," added the 1973 prize winner for her work at La Nueva Provincia newspaper of Bahia Blanca.

In Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Window, a book published this year, Timerman described being imprisoned for nearly a year and tortured during that period because he was a Zionist.

DeYoung was a Latin American correspondent for The Washington Post's from 1977 to 1979 and since then has traveled and reported frequently in South and Central America. She was appointed foreign editor last spring.

Simons, a special correspondent for The Post since 1971, lives in Mexico City, covering Mexico and Central America. She is a Dutch national and also writes for the NRC Handelsbladt in Rotterdam.