Mount Ida College, a small liberal arts school that traces its roots back more than a century, will close at the end of the current semester and its assets will be purchased by the University of Massachusetts, officials of both institutions announced Friday.

Under the agreement, undergraduate students in good standing at Mount Ida would be offered automatic admission to the Dartmouth campus of the University of Massachusetts so they can complete their degrees.

UMass will take over the 74-acre Mount Ida campus in Newton and use it for "career preparation programs," in science and technology fields that are in high demand in the greater Boston area, the university said.

Recent merger talks between Mount Ida and nearby Lasell College ended without an agreement, likely striking the final blow to Mount Ida as a viable private institution.

"The challenges for small colleges in the current economic and demographic landscape are significant," said Barry Brown, the school's president, in a statement. "Working with UMass, we have devised a way forward that ensures the well-being of our students, enhances the academic capacity of the region, and preserve's Mount Ida's legacy and history."

The institution began as a finishing school for women in 1899. It was accredited as a junior college in 1961 and began offering four-year bachelor degrees in 1990.

The school currently has about 1,450 undergraduate students. Seniors will graduate as scheduled in the spring.

Those who wish to transfer to UMass-Dartmouth, about 60 miles south of Newton, will be offered the in-state tuition rate of no more than $13,500, considerably below the roughly $35,000 tuition at Mount Ida. The students would also be guaranteed access housing and the opportunity to room with former classmates.

"We are fully prepared to offer Mount Ida students the private college educational experience they are accustomed to at a public university value," said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert Johnson.

UMass will absorb and seek to restructure Mount Ida's debt, estimated at between $55 and $70 million, and assume "certain liabilities" under the agreement, university officials said.