NEW YORK (AP) _ Hearst Corp. announced Thursday that Gilbert Maurer, executive vice president of the corporation and president of its magazine division, had been named chief operating officer of the parent company.

Maurer, 61, will retain his title as executive vice president but will give up the post with Hearst Magazines Division, which publishes 15 consumer magazines including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Victoria and Country Living.

D. Claeys Bahrenburg, 42, has been named to replace Maurer as president of the magazine division. He had been executive vice president and group publishing director at Hearst Magazines.

The appointments were announced by Frank A. Bannack Jr., president and chief executive of Hearst Corp., which also has interests in newspapers, radio and television stations, books, TV programs and cable TV networks.

Bennack said Maurer did an outstanding job in his 18 years as an executive at the magazine division, and noted that since Maurer took over as president of the unit in 1976, the group launched or acquired six magazines, circulation grew by more than 8 million copies a month and ad revenues grew more than four times.

''I believe he is eminently qualified to share with me the most important processes of decision making, planning and general management responsibilities for the whole The Hearst Corporation as it is structured at the beginning of this new decade of the '90s,'' Bennack said in a statement.

Bahrenburg was named to his current posts at the magazine division in 1987. He joined Hearst Magazines in 1981 as publisher of House Beautiful and became publisher of Cosmpolitan in 1984.

Before joining Hearst, he was associate publisher of Rolling Stone for five years and was a sales representative at the Saturday Review and The New York Times.