The student years 1901 to 1906 of the four founder members of the Brücke association of artists are analysed – Fritz Bleyl, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff – based on the unpublished ‘study’ files that survive in Dresden Technical University. Although they studied architecture, their education offered a wide range of courses, including architectural and interior design, freehand drawing and sketching, perspective drawing, the History of Art and Architecture, as well as the historical and practical aspects of the Applied Arts, which casts doubt on the often stated claim that the Brücke artists were entirely self-taught. The courses they studied in Dresden are discussed, as well as Kirchner’s Winter Semester of 1903–04, which he spent at the progressive Debschitz and Obrist Art School in Munich. The writings of Hermann Obrist and the two best known of their Dresden professors, Cornelius Gurlitt and Fritz Schumacher, are examined, in an attempt to analyse what influence the ideas and theoretical positions of their teachers might have had on them. Appendices list all the surviving documents (A), the courses taken (B), courses taught by their teachers (C) and their addresses in Dresden (D).